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Diverse mechanisms for endogenous regeneration and repair in mammalian organs

Naturevolume 557pages322328 (2018) | Download Citation



Mammalian organs comprise an extraordinary diversity of cell and tissue types. Regenerative organs, such as the skin and gastrointestinal tract, use resident stem cells to maintain tissue function. Organs with a lower cellular turnover, such as the liver and lungs, mostly rely on proliferation of committed progenitor cells. In many organs, injury reveals the plasticity of both resident stem cells and differentiated cells. The ability of resident cells to maintain and repair organs diminishes with age, whereas, paradoxically, the risk of cancer increases. New therapeutic approaches aim to harness cell plasticity for tissue repair and regeneration while avoiding the risk of malignant transformation of cells.

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F.M.W. acknowledges funding from the Wellcome Trust (206439/Z/17/Z), Medical Research Council (MR/PO18823/1), Cancer Research UK (C219/A23522) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/M007219/1). J.M.W. is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health R01DK092456, U19AI116491, P01HD093363 and U01DK103117. We thank C. Mooney for help with the Figures.

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Nature thanks C. Lengner and J. Rajagopal for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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  1. Divisions of Developmental Biology and Endocrinology, Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

    • James M. Wells
  2. Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Guy’s Hospital Campus, King’s College London, London, UK

    • Fiona M. Watt


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J.M.W. and F.M.W. conceived and wrote the manuscript and drafted the Figures together.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Correspondence to James M. Wells or Fiona M. Watt.

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