Mouse Antlers? Can Mice Grow Antlers? Yes, Sort Of, New Research Shows

Last week we talked about tissue regeneration. We noted that the process deer use to grow antlers shows promise for advances in regeneration of bone and other tissues. But mouse antlers?

Forget any thought of five point buck mice. According to Field and Stream the actual “mouse antlers” are odd antler-like growths on the heads of study mice. The “antlers” are the result of grafting stem cells from Sika deer.

The Chinese researchers involved have been pursuing two different paths in their studies. The most recent study was conducted at the Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xi”an, China. The university also studies aeronautics astronautics and marine technology engineering. It boasts about,30,000 students, 4,300 faculty and 200,000 alumni according to its website.

According to Field and Stream NPU researchers:

“… found that the most effective cell implants were those derived from shed antlers that were no more than 5 days old. Those cells were harvested from the antler pedicle—where the base of the antler connects to the skull plate—cultured in a petri dish, and then transplanted between the ears of hairless mice. Within 45 days of implantation, the mice had begun to develop “antler-like” structures of their own.” (Link in original”

An earlier Chinese study took a different approach:

“It’s not the first time that Chinese scientists have grown something akin to a deer antler on the noggin of a mouse. In a similar study published in the Journal of Regenerative Biology and Medicine in August 2020, researchers surgically removed antler tissue from living deer then used something called a cryogenic freezer mill to process the antler material before inserting it into nude mice. That study produced similar results with the mice sprouting visible, antler-like protrusions atop their heads.” (Link in original)

Sika deer (Cervus nippon) are small deer. They are primarily East Asian in origin but have been introduced in many places. Including Texas and Maryland. Sika are one of 43 species of deer, including elk and moose worldwide.

OK. This is probably everyone’s first image of “mouse antlers” But no, unless it is still St. Patrick’s Day for you. Photo Whiskeyriff

Deer regenerate antlers annually. Antlers are fast growing bone tissue. They can grow nearly an inch in a day. The Chinese research is furthering understanding of exactly how deer regenerate antlers.

These images from Field and Stream are closer to the reality. The “mouse antlers” on the heads of the mice contain antler like tissue,

Scientists are excited about the results. The results suggest that the robust regeneration capacity inherent in antler regeneration can be replicated across species and may have implications of bone regeneration in people and other animals.

Sika deer stag, Studley Park
Sika deer are among the smaller members of the deer family. Native to Asia they have been widely imported into other countries. Their antlers are focus of much study. Sika deer stag, Studley Park by Gordon Hatton is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

Readers of the blog will note the ever-increasing degree to which cellular science is impacting wildlife. It is involved in conservation and control of disease vectors. It is central to the emerging science of “DeExtinction.”

For better or worse Chinese scientists are among the leaders in cellular and DNA level research with mammals.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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