Biomedicine

Counteracting Muscle Aging

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Science  28 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6174, pp. 950
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6174.950-c
CREDIT: B. D. COSGROVE ET AL., NATURE MEDICINE (16 FEBRUARY 2014) © NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP

Muscles tend to get weaker with age and also lose regenerative capacity. Studying young and old mice, Cosgrove et al. demonstrate that impaired muscle stem cell function is at least in part to blame. In aged mice, about two-thirds of the muscle stem cells were on their way to differentiation or senescence and thus were individually less effective at regenerating muscle fibers. However, even in the aged mice, a subset of muscle stem cells existed that showed youthful, enthusiastic muscle regeneration. Analysis of the differences between the two stem cell populations pointed to differences in the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Muscle stem cell populations from aged mice that were cultured on soft substrates and treated with a p38 MAPK inhibitor proliferated to produce more of the robust-regeneration stem cells, even though the source was aged mice. When transplanted into the muscles of aged mice, stem cells derived from this in vitro treatment engrafted enthusiastically, contributed to repair of muscle fibers, and restored muscle strength measurements to youthful levels.

Nat. Med. 10.1038/nm.3464 (2014).

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