Neurons and muscle cells in adult humans do not have the ability to divide by mitosis, so they can not repair themselves and their cell cycle remains in the interphase. I’m looking for more cells with this feature. Are there other cells with this inability to undergo mitosis in humans or in plants?

In an adult human:

  1. Do nervous cells ever undergo mitosis?

  2. I wonder if all muscle cells do not undergo mitosis or if this inability only applies to cardiac and skeletal muscle cells.

  • $\begingroup$ As I understand no specialized cells undergo mitosis, not even epidermal cells. The difference resides in that certain tissues like epidermis maintain a pool of undifferentiated cells that undergo mitosis and trough this, generate new cells that differentiated into the specific specialized cell. Such a pool exist in certain brain areas like the hippocampus, where it's possible to observe the appearance of new neurons in the adult. $\endgroup$
    – heracho
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 13:55

3 Answers 3


To answer the numbered questions:

  1. In general, neurons never divide by mitosis. However, I believe you may have unintentionally misphrased your question; there are functional neural stem cells in the adult human brain as well, and these are believed to give rise to new neurons throughout the lifespan of an individual. They have only been found in specific parts of the brain, though, such as the SVZ and the subgranular zone of the hippocampus (Gonzales-Perez 2012; Behnan et al. 2017). It also bears noting that following an external insult (such as DNA damage, oxidative stress, hypoxia), even terminally differentiated neurons can re-enter the cell cycle and go as far as to replicate their DNA, but this tends to result in apoptosis or arrest at the G2/M phase; such aberrant re-entry into the cell cycle is more frequent in brains afflicted by neurodegenerative diseases (Frade & Ovejero-Benito, 2015). In addition, the possibility to induce neurons to proliferate and form cancers has been demonstrated in retinal cells in mice (Ajioka et al. 2007).
  2. Correct; as with neurons, muscle cells (myocytes) lack the ability to undergo mitosis. But again, I believe what you really want to ask is whether or not muscles maintain a pool of stem cells that can replace lost cells. The answer to this is yes—there are stem cells within skeletal (Wang, Dumont & Rudnicki 2014) and smooth muscles (Majesky et al. 2011) that proliferate in response to damage. According to some studies there are stem cells in the adult heart as well, although their regenerative capacity appears to be very low (Bergmann et al. 2009).

If your intention was indeed to ask about which cells are unable to undergo mitosis, then the answer will likely be a very long list, as no terminally differentiated cell type undergoes division under normal circumstances. This would, for example, include all different blood cell types (erythrocytes, megakaryocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, B-cells, T-cells, natural killer cells, mast cells, macrophages), most skin cells (e.g. keratinocytes, melanocytes), epithelial cells (such as those that form the intestinal lining) and such. This would likely include most if not all of the cell types listed here that do not have the "(stem cell)" note next to the links (although I did not confirm this by checking the literature on them).


  • Ajioka, Itsuki, et al. "Differentiated horizontal interneurons clonally expand to form metastatic retinoblastoma in mice." Cell 131.2 (2007): 378-390.
  • Behnan, Jinan, et al. "Identification and characterization of a new source of adult human neural progenitors." Cell death & disease 8.8 (2017): e2991.
  • Bergmann, Olaf, et al. "Evidence for cardiomyocyte renewal in humans." Science 324.5923 (2009): 98-102.
  • Frade, José M., and María C. Ovejero-Benito. "Neuronal cell cycle: the neuron itself and its circumstances." Cell cycle 14.5 (2015): 712-720.
  • Gonzalez-Perez, Oscar. "Neural stem cells in the adult human brain." Biological and biomedical reports 2.1 (2012): 59.
  • Guo, Dayong, and Lynda F. Bonewald. "Advancing our understanding of osteocyte cell biology." Therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease 1.2 (2009): 87-96.
  • Majesky, Mark W., et al. "Vascular smooth muscle progenitor cells: building and repairing blood vessels." Circulation research 108.3 (2011): 365-377.
  • Wang, Yu Xin, Nicolas A. Dumont, and Michael A. Rudnicki. "Muscle stem cells at a glance." (2014): 4543-4548.

Yes, nervous cells never undergo mitosis coz they lose their centriole thereby they are present permanently in G0 phase of cell cycle in which a cell doesn't divide,rather it just carries out it's day to day metabolism.

As far as plants are concerned,they have meristematic cells which are capable of regeneration.But if you know a little bit about plant anatomy then you can say that primary xylem and primary phloem do not divide throughout their lives.

I hope this helps.

  1. Though neurons do not possess the ability to divide in adult humans, glial cells do, and in case of injury or disease, tend to fill up the gaps created by loss of neurons.
  2. Most muscle cells lose their ability to divide after maturation. There are a few cases however, like those in disease or damage, when cells that are lost may be replaced. These are discussed below:

Skeletal muscles: Each skeletal muscle fiber arises by fusion of multiple myoblasts during embryonic development. Once fusion occurs, the ability to divide is lost. However, a few myoblasts do persist in mature skeletal muscle as satellite cells, which retain the capacity to fuse with one another or with damaged muscle fibres to regenerate functional muscle fibres. So even though our muscle cells cannot divide, they can, in some cases, be regenerated. enter image description here

Smooth Muscles: Certain smooth muscle fibers, like those in the uterus retain their capacity for division. Also, new smooth fibers can arise from pericytes, stem cells present in association with small veins and blood capillaries.

Cardiac Muscle: These fibers are unable to divide on their own. However, there have been studies related to this, and it was shown that bone marrow stem cells could be used to regenerate damaged heart tissue.

(Refer: Cell transplantation for cardiac regeneration: where do we stand? Neth Heart J. 2008 Mar; 16(3): 88–95.)

I hope this answers the question.

I read this in Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 12th Edition, Tortora, G. J., Derrickson, B.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .