Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

And a Happy New….Kidney!

Spiny mouse photo by By Marcel Burkhard via Wikimedia Commons

Spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) are amazing animals. For starters, they are reportedly one of the only known species to date, in addition to primates, that menstruate (McKenna et al., 2021). They are also capable of regenerating skin tissue, complete with hair follicles and blood vessels without scarring, after an injury (Siefert et al., 2012). This is an important skill for animals that escape predators by shedding their skin.

Add to the list of impressive traits a similar ability to regenerate kidneys following an injury without scarring. Similar to their ability to regrow skin, the repaired kidneys function normally. This is remarkable as kidney injuries in other animals can lead to scarring which impairs kidney function and can lead to failure.

Scientists hope to learn how these mice regenerate tissues in the hope of developing ways to treat organ damage.


J McKenna, N Bellofiore, E Dimitriadis, P Temple-Smith. Postpartum ovulation and early pregnancy in the menstruating spiny mouse, Acomys cahirinus. Scientific Reports. 11: 5344, 2021.

DM Okamura, CM Brewer, P Wakenight, N Bahrami, K Bernardi, A Tran, J Olson, X Shi, S-Y Yeh, A Piliponsky, SJ Collins, ED Nguyen, AE Timms, JW MacDonald, TK Bammler, BR Nelson, KJ Millen, DR Beier, MW Majesky. Spiny mice activate unique transcriptional programs after severe kidney injury regenerating organ function without fibrosis. iSource. 24(11), 103269, 2021.

AW Siefert, SG Kiama, MG Siefert, JR Goheen, TM Palmer, M Maden. Skin shedding and tissue regeneration in African spiny mice (Acomys). Nature. 489(7417): 561-565, 2012.

Categories: Comparative Physiology, Extreme Animals, Illnesses and Injuries, Nature's Solutions, Reproduction and Development

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