Denervation affects regenerative responses in MRL/MpJ and repair in C57BL/6 ear wounds


Professor Mark W. J. Ferguson, Renovo, Manchester Incubator Building, 48 Grafton Street, Manchester M13 9XX, UK. T: +44 759 582 1939; E:


The MRL/MpJ mouse displays the rare ability amongst mammals to heal injured ear tissue without scarring. Numerous studies have shown that the formation of a blastema-like structure leads to subsequent tissue regeneration in this model, indicating many parallels with amphibian limb regeneration and mammalian embryogenesis. We have recently shown that the MRL/MpJ mouse also possesses an enhanced capacity for peripheral nerve regeneration within the ear wound. Indeed, nerves are vital for the initial phase of blastema formation in the amphibian limb. In this study we investigated the capacity for wound regeneration in a denervated ear. The left ears of MRL/MpJ mice and C57BL/6 (a control strain known to have a poorer regenerative capacity) were surgically denervated at the base via an incision and nerve transection, immediately followed by a 2-mm ear punch wound. Immunohistochemical analysis showed a lack of neurofilament expression in the denervated ear wound. Histology revealed that denervation prevented blastema formation and chrondrogenesis, and also severely hindered normal healing, with disrupted re-epithelialisation, increasing wound size and progressive necrosis towards the ear tip. Denervation of the ear obliterated the regenerative capacity of the MRL/MpJ mouse, and also had a severe negative effect on the ear wound repair mechanisms of the C57BL/6 strain. These data suggest that innervation may be important not only for regeneration but also for normal wound repair processes.