PMID: 5917072Sep 30, 1966

Hypertrophy versus hyperplasia

R J Goss


Although all tissues and organs of the body are normally subject to the growth-regulating influences of functional demands, some are potentially capable of unlimited growth while others are not. This depends on whether hyperplasia of their functional units ceases prior to maturity or can continue throughout life. In the former case, further growth is limited by the extent to which hypertrophy can enhance physiological efficiency. Some of the body's most vitally essential organs (heart, brain, kidney, lung) lack the ability to make additional structural units in the adult and are therefore handicapped in compensating for the depreciations of advancing age. Theoretically, at least, other organs (glands, renewing tissues) possess unlimited powers of regeneration because they never lose the capacity (latent or expressed) for hyperplasia. There is a strategy in the way growth mechanisms have evolved. It may be significant that the so-called "hypertrophic" organs lose the capability for hyperplasia, because not to do so might jeopardize their growth regulation. If size is determined by functional demands, then the latter must not operate continuously lest growth go on without interruption and lead to overproduction of functional unit...Continue Reading


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