, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 363-376

Delayed but excellent myogenic stem cell response of regenerating geriatric skeletal muscles in mice

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Abstract

The ability of very old animals to make new muscle after injury remains controversial. This issue has major implications for the regenerative potential of damaged geriatric human muscle, to age-related loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) and to the proposed need for muscle stem cell therapy for the aged. To further address issues of inherent myogenic capacity and the role of host systemic factors in new muscle formation, whole muscle grafts were transplanted between geriatric (aged 27–29 months) and young (3 months) C57Bl/6J mice and compared with autografts in geriatric and young mice. Grafts were sampled at 5 and 10 days for histological analysis. Inflammation and formation of new myotubes was strikingly impaired at 5 days in the geriatric muscle autografts. However, there was a strong inflammatory response by the geriatric hosts to young muscle grafts and geriatric muscles provoked an inflammatory response by young hosts at 5 days. At 10 days, extensive myotube formation in geriatric muscle autografts (equivalent to that seen in young autografts and both other groups) confirmed excellent intrinsic capacity of myogenic (stem) cells to proliferate and fuse. The key conclusion is that a weaker chemotactic stimulus by damaged geriatric muscle, combined with a reduced inflammatory response of old hosts, results in delayed inflammation in geriatric muscle autografts. This delay is transient. Once inflammation occurs, myogenesis can proceed. The presence of well developed myotubes in old muscle autografts at 10 days confirms a very good inherent myogenic response of geriatric skeletal muscle.