Reversibility of the Differentiated State: Regeneration in Amphibians


  • Presented in part at the 43rd Tutzing Symposium “Regenerative Medicine—Membranes & Scaffolds” held November 20–23, 2005, in Tutzing, Germany.

Dr. Elly M. Tanaka, Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstrasse 108, 01307 Dresden, Germany. E-mail:


Abstract:  In contrast to mammals, some fish and amphibians have retained the ability to regenerate complex body structures or organs, such as the limb, tail, eye lens, or even parts of the heart. One major difference in the response to injury is the appearance of a mesenchymal growth zone or blastema in these regenerative species instead of the scarring seen in mammals. This blastema is thought to largely derive from the dedifferentiation of various functional cell types, such as skeletal muscle, dermis, and cartilage. In the case of multinucleated skeletal muscle fibers, cell cycle reentry into S-phase as well as fragmentation into mononucleated progenitors is observed both in vitro and in vivo.