Newts and salamanders, both urodele amphibians, are the only vertebrates with tremendous regenerative potency throughout their lifetime. In contrast to the limited regenerative potential of most mammals, including humans, they can regenerate an entire limb after amputation and many other structures of their bodies, whereas humans mainly respond to injury by the formation of a scar. The intention of plastic surgery is to restore function of injured body parts, with the highest principle to replace “like with like.” Despite tremendous improvements in surgical techniques over the last century, the remaining drawbacks include the availability of autologous tissue for transfer to restore extensive tissue loss. Here, some regenerative features of the urodeles are reviewed, in particular wound healing, nerve and limb regeneration, and their potential impact for reconstructive surgery are discussed. With a detailed molecular and cellular understanding of the urodele regeneration processes in combination with recent advances in tissue engineering, new perspectives for plastic surgery and especially improvements in regards to tissue regeneration are opened.
From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
Received May 7, 2017, and accepted for publication, after revision July 16, 2018.
Conflicts of interest and sources of funding: none declared.
Reprints: Christine Radtke, MD, MBA, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 23, 1090 Vienna, Austria. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.