Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fingernails reveal clues to limb regeneration

Date:
June 12, 2013
Source:
NYU Langone Medical Center
Summary:
Mammals possess the remarkable ability to regenerate a lost fingertip, including the nail, nerves and even bone. In humans, an amputated fingertip can sprout back in as little as two months, a phenomenon that has remained poorly understood until now. Biologists now shed light on this rare regenerative power in mammals, using genetically engineered mice to document for the first time the biochemical chain of events that unfolds in the wake of a fingertip amputation.

Mammals possess the remarkable ability to regenerate a lost fingertip, including the nail, nerves and even bone.
Credit: Hubert Marciniak / Fotolia

Mammals possess the remarkable ability to regenerate a lost fingertip, including the nail, nerves and even bone. In humans, an amputated fingertip can sprout back in as little as two months, a phenomenon that has remained poorly understood until now. In a paper published today in the journal Nature, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center shed light on this rare regenerative power in mammals, using genetically engineered mice to document for the first time the biochemical chain of events that unfolds in the wake of a fingertip amputation. The findings hold promise for amputees who may one day be able to benefit from therapies that help the body regenerate lost limbs.

"Everyone knows that fingernails keep growing, but no one really knows why," says lead author Mayumi Ito, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU School of Medicine. Nor is much understood about the link between nail growth and the regenerative ability of the bone and tissue beneath the nail. Now, Dr. Ito and team have discovered an important clue in this process: a population of self-renewing stem cells in the nail matrix, a part of the nail bed rich in nerve endings and blood vessels that stimulate nail growth. Moreover, the scientists have found that these stem cells depend upon a family of proteins known as the "Wnt signaling network" -- the same proteins that play a crucial role in hair and tissue regeneration -- to regenerate bone in the fingertip.

"When we blocked the Wnt-signaling pathway in mice with amputated fingertips, the nail and bone did not grow back as they normally would," says Dr. Ito. Even more intriguing, the researchers found that they could manipulate the Wnt pathway to stimulate regeneration in bone and tissue just beyond the fingertip. "Amputations of this magnitude ordinarily do not grow back," says Dr. Ito. These findings suggest that Wnt signaling is essential for fingertip regeneration, and point the way to therapies that could help people regenerate lost limbs. An estimated 1.7 million people in the U.S. live with amputations.

The team's next step is to zoom in on the molecular mechanisms that control how the Wnt signaling pathway interacts with the nail stem cells to influence bone and nail growth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NYU Langone Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Makoto Takeo, Wei Chin Chou, Qi Sun, Wendy Lee, Piul Rabbani, Cynthia Loomis, M. Mark Taketo, Mayumi Ito. Wnt activation in nail epithelium couples nail growth to digit regeneration. Nature, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nature12214

Cite This Page:

NYU Langone Medical Center. "Fingernails reveal clues to limb regeneration." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612132532.htm>.
NYU Langone Medical Center. (2013, June 12). Fingernails reveal clues to limb regeneration. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612132532.htm
NYU Langone Medical Center. "Fingernails reveal clues to limb regeneration." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130612132532.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins