Morphological and Cellular Aspects of Tail and Limb Regeneration in Lizards

Volume 207 of the series Advances in Anatomy, Embryology and Cell Biology pp 1-49


Regeneration in Reptiles and Its Position Among Vertebrates

  • Lorenzo AlibardiAffiliated withDipto. Biologia Evoluzionistica Sperimentale, Universitá di Bologna Email author 

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The analysis of the distribution of the regenerative power in Eumetazoa indicates that many phyla include species where regeneration is present, sometimes in species very similar to species that do not show any regenerative ability (Reichman 1984; Goss 1987; Alvarado 2000; Brookes et al. 2001). This observation suggests that when some conditions are present and receive a positive selective pressure, an organism, even a complex one, can regenerate lost parts.

In vertebrates an uneven distribution of the regenerative power of tissues and organs is present, but epimorphic regeneration (regeneration from localized body regions) is very limited, mainly to fins in some fish, to many organs in aquatic amphibians, and to the tail of lizards. Vertebrates possess a complex histological composition, and dedifferentiation of some tissues appears to be the prevalent mechanism capable of forming a regenerative blastema of mesenchymal cells in contact with a wound epithelium (Han et al. 2005). Dedifferentiation is not necessary or occurs only partially in tissues where stem cells are present and contribute to the formation of the regenerative blastema (VanBekkum 2004). The formation of a minimal mass of mesenchymal cells capable of proliferation and successive differentiation into specialized and functional tissues is critical for organ regeneration.