ReviewCell Biology

Apoptosis, Stem Cells, and Tissue Regeneration

Science Signaling  26 Oct 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 145, pp. re8
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3145re8

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Abstract

Most metazoans have at least some ability to regenerate damaged cells and tissues, although the regenerative capacity varies depending on the species, organ, or developmental stage. Cell replacement and regeneration occur in two contexts: renewal of spent cells during tissue homeostasis (homeostatic growth), and in response to external injury, wounding, or amputation (epimorphic regeneration). Model organisms that display remarkable regenerative capacity include amphibians, planarians, Hydra, and the vertebrate liver. In addition, several mammalian organs, including the skin, gut, kidney, muscle, and even the human nervous system, have some ability to replace spent or damaged cells. Although the regenerative response is complex, it typically involves the induction of new cell proliferation through formation of a blastema, followed by cell specification, differentiation, and patterning. Stem cells and undifferentiated progenitor cells play an important role in both tissue homeostasis and tissue regeneration. Stem cells are typically quiescent or passing slowly through the cell cycle in adult tissues, but they can be activated in response to cell loss and wounding. A series of studies, mostly performed in Drosophila as well as in Hydra, Xenopus, and mouse, has revealed an unexpected role of apoptotic caspases in the production of mitogenic signals that stimulate the proliferation of stem and progenitor cells to aid in tissue regeneration. This Review summarizes some of the key findings and discusses links to stem cell biology and cancer.

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