Tissue Regeneration in Animals

All animals can heal, and most have the ability to regenerate some of their tissues and body parts.

The great diversity of regenerative capabilities among animals is striking—from the feeble ability of humans to the remarkable capacity of some worms to re-form an entire body from a small clump of cells. However, the evolutionary relationships or the complexity of the body does not necessarily predict regenerative ability.

Some vertebrates, such as amphibians, are quite good at regeneration, while C. elegans, a simple roundworm, has no regenerative ability. Despite contrasting abilities, are there common cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying all regeneration? Is there anything to be learned about human regeneration by studying simpler life forms?

Let’s begin by defining regeneration and considering the difference between simple healing and regeneration.