• blastema cell proliferation;
  • blastema-nerve interactions;
  • fibroblast growth factor release;
  • limb regeneration

Previous studies have shown that both fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-1 and nerves play an important function during limb regeneration, but no correlation between these two regeneration factors has yet been demonstrated. In the present study we first establish that exogenous FGF-2, a member of the FGF family that binds to the same high-affinity receptors as FGF-1, is able to stimulate both [3H]-thymidine incorporation and the mitotic index in the mesenchyme and the epidermal cells of denervated blastemas. We then use cocultures of spinal cord and blastema on heparin-coated dishes, an in vitro system mimicking the in vivo interactions during limb regeneration, to show that interactions between nerve fibers from the spinal cord and the blastema enhance the release of bioactive FGF-1. Release of this growth factor seemed to correlate with nerve fiber regeneration, as it decreased in the presence of the dipeptide Leu-Ala, known to inhibit neurite outgrowth, while the inverse dipeptide Ala-Leu was inactive. Therefore, these results support our hypothesis that the interaction between nervous tissue and blastema is permissive for the release of FGF-1, which in turn stimulates blastema cell proliferation.