A new study in mice has disclosed that mesenchymal (mezz-EN-chem-uhl) stem cells (MSCs) are helpful for rejuvenating skeletal muscle after resistance exercise.
During this study, researchers were able to improve the rate of repair and the growth and strength of mouse leg muscles by injecting MSCs prior to several bouts of eccentric exercise.
University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Marni Boppart, who led the research, said the findings, described in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, could one day lead to new interventions to combat age-related declines in muscle structure and function.
“We have an interest in understanding how muscle responds to exercise, and which cellular components contribute to the increase in repair and growth with exercise,” she said. “But the primary goal of our lab really is to have some understanding of how we can rejuvenate the aged muscle to prevent the physical disability that occurs with age, and to increase quality of life in general as well.”
According to the new study, MSCs also excrete growth factors and stimulate muscle precursor cells, called satellite cells. “Satellite cells are a primary target for the rejuvenation of aged muscle, since activation becomes increasingly impaired and recovery from injury is delayed over the lifespan,” Boppart said. “MSC transplantation may provide a viable solution to reawaken the aged satellite cell.”
“Skeletal muscle is a very complex organ that is highly innervated and vascularized, and unfortunately all of these different tissues become dysfunctional with age,” Boppart said. “Therefore, development of an intervention that can heal multiple tissues is ideally required to reverse age-related declines in muscle mass and function. MSCs, because of their ability to repair a variety of different tissue types, are perfectly suited for this task.”