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J Morphol. 1975 Aug;146(4):533-42.

Epidermal downgrowths in regenerating rabbit ear holes.


Rabbits are unique among mammals in that their ears can regenerate tissues from the margins of full thickness holes which grow in and completely fill the opening in about two months. The circular blastema that forms around the edges of the hole differentiates a new sheet of cartilage as it regenerates in a centripetal direction. Similar holes in other mammals fail to regenerate and form scar tissue instead of a blastema. Histological studies of the healing around the edges of rabbit ear holes reveal that during the second week, when the epidermis is completing its migration across the wound from the opposite sides of the ear, conspicuous tongues of epidermal cells grow down into the underlying tissues at the edges of the wound. These epidermal downgrowths are situated between the original intact dermis of the skin and the more central tissues which give rise to the blastema. Such downgrowths are of a transient nature, and are no longer found once the blastema rounds up toward the end of the second week. Since they are not found in the healing of similar wounds in rabbit ears prevented from regenerating by prior removal of their cartilaginous sheets, nor in the naturally nonregenerating ears of sheep and dogs, it is considered that these downgrowths of healing epidermis may play a role in the unusual regenerative response of ear tissues in the rabbit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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