- Deer are able to regrow their antlers each year thanks to stem cells at their base
- These turn into blastema cells, which grow into bones and horns cartilage
- Scientists grew antler-like stems on mice by transplanting blastema cells
Scientists have been able to grow antler-like structures on the foreheads of mice by transplanting stem cells from deer.
Deer antlers fall off and grow back each year – during the spring they will grow at a rate of an inch per day.
In their new study, researchers from Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xi’an, China, have identified the cells responsible for regrowth.
Just 45 days after these cells were transplanted onto the foreheads of hairless lab mice, they began to grow tiny stems.
The team hopes the procedure could one day be used to help repair bone or cartilage in humans — or even regrow lost limbs.
Deer antlers are the only part of the mammalian body that regenerates each year, and they are one of the fastest growing living tissues found in nature.
After some animals lose a limb, a group of cells called a blastema develops, which can eventually turn into cells that grow that limb back.
Deer have blastocysts that repair antler tissue and bone after a molt event.
In 2020, a different team of scientists found that they could grow logs on the heads of rats by then Inserting a piece of antler tissue under the skin of their forehead.
But for the new study published in SciencesThe researchers wanted to identify specific blastema cells in the tissues responsible for the regenerative effects.
The team used RNA sequencing to study 75,000 sika deer cells, Nippon cervixin the tissues in and near their horns.
By performing this technique on cells before, during and after the animals shed their horns, they were able to detect exactly which ones were beginning to regrow.
The results showed that 10 days before the antlers shed, stem cells were abundant in the antler pedicles — the stems that remained on the day of shedding.
Five days after molting, these cells produced a separate subtype of stem cells, which the team dubbed “antler progenitor cells” (ABPCs).
By 10 days post-elimination, the ABPCs had begun to transform into cartilage and bone.
After discovering the cells responsible for deer antler regrowth, the team then cultured the ABPCs in a lab petri dish.
Five days later, they transplanted the cells in Between the ears of the mice where they are It has grown into an ‘antler-like’ structure[s]With cartilage and bone in just 45 days.
While the findings are preliminary, the researchers believe the findings could have important implications for humans.
The authors, led by Tao Kuen, write: ‘Our results indicate that deer has application in clinical bone repair.
Furthermore, induction of human ABPC-like cells can be used in regenerative medicine for skeletal injuries or limb regeneration.
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