It is well established that humans and other mammals are minimally regenerative compared with organisms such as zebrafish, salamander or amphibians. In recent years, however, the identification of regenerative potential in neonatal mouse tissues that normally heal poorly in adults has transformed our understanding of regenerative capacity in mammals. In this Review, we survey the mammalian tissues for which regenerative or improved neonatal healing has been established, including the heart, cochlear hair cells, the brain and spinal cord, and dense connective tissues. We also highlight common and/or tissue-specific mechanisms of neonatal regeneration, which involve cells, signaling pathways, extracellular matrix, immune cells and other factors. The identification of such common features across neonatal tissues may direct therapeutic strategies that will be broadly applicable to multiple adult tissues.

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