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Morphological observation of antler regeneration in red deer (Cervus elaphus)

Morphological observation of antler regeneration in red deer (Cervus elaphus)

Journal of Morphology 262(3): 731-740

Deer antler offers a unique opportunity to explore how nature solves the problem of mammalian appendage regeneration. Annual antler renewal is an example of epimorphic regeneration, which is known to take place through initial blastema formation. Detailed examination of the early process of antler regeneration, however, has thus far been lacking. Therefore, we conducted morphological observations on antler regeneration from naturally cast and artificially created pedicle/antler stumps. On the naturally cast pedicle stumps, early antler regeneration underwent four distinguishable stages (with the Chinese equivalent names): casting of previous hard antlers (oil lamp bowl), early wound healing (tiger eye), late wound healing and early regeneration (millstone), and formation of main beam and brown tine (small saddle). Overall, no cone-shaped regenerate, a common feature to blastema-based regeneration, was observed. Taken together with the examination on the sagittal plane of each regenerating stage sample, we found that there are considerable overlaps between late-stage wound healing and the establishment of posterior and anterior growth centers. Observation of antler regeneration from the artificially created stumps showed that the regeneration potential of antler remnants was significantly reduced compared with that of pedicle tissue. Interestingly, the distal portion of a pedicle stump had greater regeneration potential than the proximal region, although this differential potential may not be constitutive, but rather caused by whether or not pedicle antlerogenic tissue becomes closely associated with the enveloping skin at the cut plane. Antler formation could take place from the distal peripheral tissues of an antler/pedicle stump, without the obvious participation of the entire central bony portion. Overall, our morphological results do not support the notion that antler regeneration takes place through the initial formation of a blastema; rather, it may be a stem cell-based process.

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Accession: 012327600

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15487018

DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10273

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