PerspectiveEvolution

Lost in the fire

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Science  12 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6436, pp. 123-124
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax1006

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Summary

Like all mammals studied, humans are born with considerable regenerative capacity, but for unknown reasons, this is lost in early childhood (1). For example, in adulthood, human hearts and brains have minimal ability to regenerate after injury, and age-associated diseases of cell deficiency are major causes of human death. By contrast, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates can regenerate throughout their lives (2). This comparative biology has captivated researchers, who hope that understanding natural regeneration might lead to clinical treatments, such as for heart disease (2). On page 184 of this issue, Hirose et al. (3) identify thyroid hormone as a culprit in preventing mammalian heart regeneration. By comparing multiple mammalian species, they propose that regeneration was lost as a trade-off for the ability to regulate body temperature (endothermy).