XI'AN, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have identified a group of stem cells in deer that bolster antler regrowth, opening up new clinical possibilities for organ regeneration in humans.
Mammals have largely lost the capacity to regenerate their organs, but deer antlers are a notable exception that offer a valuable model for studying organ renewal in mammals.
The researchers, led by those from Northwestern Polytechnical University, published a study in the latest edition of journal Science regarding a single-cell atlas of antler regrowth.
They found that a population of antler blastema progenitor cells displays the potential for self-renewal and bone tissue repair, thus playing important role in the rapid antler elongation.
Those progenitor cells develop from three kinds of mesenchymal cells or earliest-stage antler initiators five days after the old antlers fall off and then they are shown to generate cartilage cells in vivo and in vitro, according to the study.
The team has discovered that the mice have a similar type of cells, but nonmammalian species do not, suggesting that mammals may have a distinctive regeneration mechanism.
They also used single-cell transcriptomics to identify 151 genes related to bone growth, according to the study.
The study offered new insights into the understanding of the mammalian renewal and the development of regenerative medicine, said the researchers.