Many regeneration contexts require the presence of regenerating nerves as a transient component of the progenitor cell niche. Here we review nerve involvement in regeneration of various structures in vertebrates and invertebrates. Nerves are also implicated as persistent determinants in the niche of certain stem cells in mammals, as well as in Drosophila. We consider our present understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying nerve dependence, including evidence of critical interactions with glia and non-neural cell types. The example of the salamander aneurogenic limb illustrates that developmental interactions between the limb bud and its innervation can be determinative for adult regeneration. These phenomena provide a different perspective on nerve cells to that based on chemical and electrical excitability.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.