The immune system, best known as the first line of defense against invading pathogens, is integral to tissue development, homeostasis, and wound repair. In recent years, there has been a growing appreciation that cellular and humoral components of the immune system also contribute to regeneration of damaged tissues, including limbs, skeletal muscle, heart, and the nervous system. Here, we discuss key findings that implicate inflammatory cells and their secreted factors in tissue replacement after injury via stem cells and other reparative mechanisms. We highlight clinical conditions that are amenable to immune-mediated regeneration and suggest immune targeting strategies for tissue regeneration.
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