A ready source of muscle progenitor cells might be useful for treating diseases that involve muscle atrophy, such as muscular dystrophy. In a paper to be published online in Nature Biotechnology, Johnny Huard and colleagues describe a type of cell in human adult skeletal muscle with a greater capacity to regenerate muscle tissue than progenitor cells (or 'satellite cells') previously isolated from muscles.
The new progenitors, called myoendothelial cells, express cell-surface markers of both satellite cells and endothelial (blood vessel) cells. They are easily isolated using fluorescently labelled antibodies against the markers and a fluorescence-activated cell sorting machine. They can be differentiated in culture dishes towards muscle, bone and cartilage. Studies in mice indicate that myoendothelial cells are much more efficient at forming muscle fibres in the body than both satellite and endothelial cells: 1000 myoendothelial cells transplanted into the injured skeletal muscle of immunodeficient animals produce on average 89 muscle fibres, whereas the same number of endothelial or satellite cells generate only 9 and 5 muscle fibres, respectively. Tests to investigate the safety of myoendothelial cells suggest that they have no propensity to form tumours.
Johnny Huard (University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Biotechnology press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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