Starfish can regenerate entire arms following their loss by both autotomic and traumatic amputation. Although the overall regenerative process has been studied several times in different asteroid species, there is still a considerable gap of knowledge as far as the detailed aspects of the repair phase at tissue and cellular level are concerned, particularly in post-traumatic regeneration. The present work is focused on the arm regeneration model in the Mediterranean red starfish Echinaster sepositus; in order to describe the early cellular mechanisms of arm regeneration following traumatic amputation, different microscopy techniques were employed. In E. sepositus, the repair phase was characterized by prompt wound healing by a syncytial network of phagocytes and re-epithelialisation followed by a localized subepidermal oedematous area formation. Scattered and apparently undifferentiated cells, intermixed with numerous phagocytes, were frequently found in the wound area during these first stages of regeneration and extensive dedifferentiation phenomena were seen at the level of the stump, particularly in the muscle bundles. A true localized blastema did not form. Our results confirm that regeneration in asteroids mainly relies on morphallactic processes, consisting in extensive rearrangement of the existing tissues which contribute to the new tissues through cell dedifferentiation, re-differentiation and/or migration. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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