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Wolverine has a prodigious healing factor, but does this mean that none of his cells ever die?

A lot of human cells naturally die and are replaced, such as hair and skin. Not to mention red blood cells that are then absorbed by the spleen.

Do those cells that normally die off to be replaced ever die in Wolverine?

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Yes, Wolverine's body functions very much like our own in regard to his basic physical processes. He will likely lose cells at the same rate as we do, when he is not in an accelerated regenerative state. But the curious nature of his cells makes his physical existence quite different than ours.

Wolverine's cells:

  • possess the power to rapidly regenerate in seconds what would be days for humans
  • can regenerate without needing new mass or energy for the process (?)
  • can regenerate even if he is reduced to little more than a pile of burned adamantium on the ground, as long as any surviving organic tissue remains he will be completely regrown. (with a corresponding loss of memory)
  • His cells function like super stem cells, able to take on whatever form is needed in his reconstructed body, so nerve cells and brain cells (which are almost never replaced in the human body) are able to be regrown as well.

So given the curious nature of his cellular process, would his cells die like normal cells?

In humans, our body can replace every cell in our bodies, (save nervous cells) in a period of seven years, give or take. We lose skin daily, stomach lining cells hourly, and our tongue can be scalded by hot coffee and recover in a week.

His body, given the amount of abuse it suffers, would likely perform in a fashion similar to our own EXCEPT where extraordinary stresses would require it.

For example:

  • He does not lose brain cells to alcohol poisoning, so he rarely gets drunk.
  • He might suffer a burned tongue from a sip of hot coffee, but his next drink will be with a tongue that has regenerated between each swig.
  • minor physical inconveniences (hangnails, kidney stones, paper cuts) have no meaning in his existence and are likely repaired in the time it takes for us to acknowledge they happened in the first place.
  • Even slow acting poisons are in a race with his body's ability to recover from injury
  • He does not develop cancer, as every cell is his body perfectly replicates whichever form was in existence before, including the mutant link to the source of his powers.

Here are some other articles on the Scifi.StackExchange about Wolverine's healing abilities which offer links, images and resources for the detail-oriented.

  • Please do not make content edits without at least asking me. I do my best to add information as requested... – Thaddeus Howze Jul 23 '12 at 20:36
  • I am certain I am as correct as anyone who is writing about Wolverine. Check some of the added links from the Exchange to see some of the source materials. – Thaddeus Howze Jul 23 '12 at 21:11
  • If it was anyone but Thaddeus I would question the lack of sources. So, are you saying in summary: yes the die, but they just regrow much quicker? – AncientSwordRage Jul 23 '12 at 23:01
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    That would be a correct assumption. They live and die normally unless he needs them to be restored more aggressively. – Thaddeus Howze Jul 23 '12 at 23:13
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    @Pureferret - I was not really doubting him so much as hoping to help improve the answer. I think the added links do well. – Chad Jul 24 '12 at 14:22
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While the character is unrealistic, his healing abilities are almost certainly due to mitosis. That is, when one or more cells are destroyed or damaged too much for self-repair, the remaining cells split and then the two daughter cells grow back to their original/maximum size.

After all, he can be burned. He can be shot and stabbed. For such to occur, at least a few cells must be killed... if they were invulnerable, then his skin wouldn't split open, it wouldn't char and blister.

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