Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10, 713-723 (October 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrn2707

Focus on: CNS evolution

Considering the evolution of regeneration in the central nervous system

Elly M. Tanaka1 & Patrizia Ferretti2  About the authors


For many years the mammalian CNS has been seen as an organ that is unable to regenerate. However, it was also long known that lower vertebrate species are capable of impressive regeneration of CNS structures. How did this situation arise through evolution? Increasing cellular and molecular understanding of regeneration in different animal species coupled with studies of adult neurogenesis in mammals is providing a basis for addressing this question. Here we compare CNS regeneration among vertebrates and speculate on how this ability may have emerged or been restricted.

Author affiliations

  1. Center for Regeneration Therapies, University of Technology, Dresden, c/o Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Pfotenhauerstrasse 108, 01307 Dresden, Germany.
  2. Developmental Biology Unit, University College London Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK.
    Email:; Email:


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