Posts Tagged ‘Ageing’

Stem Cells turn injured rodents into Mighty Mice

November 11, 2010

The implications for the possible treatment of wasted muscles – and perhaps even for aged, wasted muscles – is immense.

(Reuters) – Injecting stem cells into injured mice made their muscles grow back twice as big in a matter of days, creating mighty mice with bulky muscles that stayed big and strong for the rest of their lives, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

Mighty Mouse

If the same applies to humans, the findings could lead to new treatments for diseases that cause muscles to deteriorate, such as muscular dystrophy.

It may even help people resist the gradual erosion of muscle strength that comes with age, Bradley Olwin, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine. “This was a very exciting and unexpected result,” Olwin, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

“We found that the transplanted stem cells are permanently altered and reduce the aging of the transplanted muscle, maintaining strength and mass.” Olwin’s team experimented on young mice with leg injuries, injecting them with muscle stem cells taken from young donor mice. Stem cells are unique in that they can constantly renew themselves, and form the basis of other specialized cells. These cells not only repaired the injury, but they caused the treated muscle to increase in size by 170 percent. Olwin’s team had thought the changes would be temporary, but they lasted through the lifetime of the mice, which was about two years.

“When the muscles were examined two years later, we found the procedure permanently changed the transplanted cells, making them resistant to the aging process in the muscle,” Olwin said in a statement.

Olwin and colleagues said when they injected the cells into a healthy leg, they did not get the same effect, suggesting there is something important about injecting the cells into an injured muscle that triggers growth.

“The environment that the stem cells are injected into is very important, because when it tells the cells there is an injury, they respond in a unique way,” he said.

The team hopes eventually to find drugs or combinations of drugs that mimic the behavior of transplanted cells,” Olwin said. The findings are encouraging for human research, but Olwin cautions that putting stem cells from young mice into other young mice is not the same thing as making old muscles young again.

And the study is in mice, not people.

The paper is

Prevention of Muscle Aging by Myofiber-Associated Satellite Cell Transplantation by John K. Hall, Glen B. Banks, Jeffrey S. Chamberlain and Bradley B. Olwin. Sci Transl Med 10 November 2010: Vol. 2, Issue 57, p. 57ra83
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001081


Skeletal muscle is dynamic, adapting to environmental needs, continuously maintained, and capable of extensive regeneration. These hallmarks diminish with age, resulting in a loss of muscle mass, reduced regenerative capacity, and decreased functionality. Although the mechanisms responsible for this decline are unclear, complex changes within the local and systemic environment that lead to a reduction in regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle stem cells, termed satellite cells, are believed to be responsible. We demonstrate that engraftment of myofiber-associated satellite cells, coupled with an induced muscle injury, markedly alters the environment of young adult host muscle, eliciting a near-lifelong enhancement in muscle mass, stem cell number, and force generation. The abrogation of age-related atrophy appears to arise from an increased regenerative capacity of the donor stem cells, which expand to occupy both myonuclei in myofibers and the satellite cell niche. Further, these cells have extensive self-renewal capabilities, as demonstrated by serial transplantation. These near-lifelong, physiological changes suggest an approach for the amelioration of muscle atrophy and diminished function that arise with aging through myofiber-associated satellite cell transplantation.


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