Salamanders not only have the capability of
re-growing limbs, they can also regenerate their ovaries and produce
eggs throughout their lifespan, revealed a new research.
Axolotl salamanders are extremely resilient, but very little research
has been done on their incredible ability to regenerate internal organs
and eggs - also called oocytes. The study is published in the journal Stem Cells
‘Examining the axolotl salamander's ability to regenerate ovaries after a traumatic injury could lead to the development of regenerative medicines aimed at treating infertility in humans.’
"When we remove a large portion of the
ovary, it activates many endogenous stem cells to repair the organ,"
said Monaghan, whose graduate student Piril Erler, and research
technician Alexandra Sweeney, performed the study. "These salamanders
can repair after injury, continue to make large amounts of eggs, and
continue to have a hyper-prolific female reproductive system. It's
Examining the axolotl salamander's ability to regenerate ovaries
after a traumatic injury and continue to produce nearly 2,000 eggs a
year could lead to the development of regenerative medicines aimed at
treating infertility in humans. "We found most of the genes that are
expressed in human development and in human ovarian stem cells are also
expressed in these salamander ovarian stem cells," said Northeastern University biology professor James Monaghan.
Monaghan's lab now plans on targeting the signals that stimulate
regeneration in the salamander, translating those signals into different
models, such as mice, and then eventually looking at the human
implications of this research. "If we understand the signals that are
inducing the injury response, then that can be recapitulated," said
Monaghan. "We start in mice and then move up. Identifying the signals is
the key element."
The axolotl salamander is unique because they can regenerate new follicles and supporting cells. In a previous study,
Monaghan's lab identified a factor secreted by nerves in the salamander
that is essential for the regrowth of limbs - a discovery that debunked a
century-old belief that nerves don't play a factor in regeneration. But
while many scientists appreciate the axolotl's incredible ability to
rebuild itself, not much research has explored organ regeneration in
Monaghan and his lab began comparing the regenerative ability of
each organ one at a time, starting with the ovary, then moving to the
lungs and heart, all of which have shown to have a significant
regenerative response. "If we can identify a blueprint for regeneration
that is shared across multiple regenerating organs, and even the across
regenerating animals, I feel these lessons can be utilized for human
good. It's really an exciting time in regenerative biology."