, Volume 328, Issue 1, pp 65-75

Identification of key tissue type for antler regeneration through pedicle periosteum deletion

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Epimorphic regeneration is the “holy grail” of regenerative medicine. Research aimed at investigating the various models of epimorphic regeneration is essential if a fundamental understanding of the factors underpinning this process are to be established. Deer antlers are the only mammalian appendages that are subject to an annual cycle of epimorphic regeneration. In our previous studies, we have reported that histogenesis of antler regeneration relies on cells resident within the pedicle periosteum (PP). The present study elaborates this finding by means of functional studies involving the deletion of PP. Four yearling and four 2-year-old stags were selected for total PP deletion or partial PP deletion experiments. Of the animals in the total PP deletion group, one showed no signs of antler regeneration throughout the antler growth season. Two showed substantial and one showed marginal delays in antler regeneration (at 34, 20 and 7 days, respectively) compared with the corresponding sham-operated sides. Histological investigation revealed that the delayed antlers were derived from regenerated PP. Unexpectedly, the regenerative capacity of the antler from the total periosteum-deleted pedicles depended on antler length at surgery. Of the four deer that had partial PP deletion, two regenerated antlers exclusively from the left-over PP on the pedicle shafts in the absence of participation from the pedicle bone proper. The combined results from the PP deletion experiments convincingly demonstrate that the cells of the PP are responsible for antler regeneration.

The authors thank the New Zealand Foundation of Research, Science and Technology and Deer Industry New Zealand for funding their research.