Satellite cell characterization from aging human muscle

Arianna Corbu, Annarita Scaramozza, Lucilla Badiali-DeGiorgi, Lucia Tarantino, Valentina Papa, Rita Rinaldi, Roberto D'Alessandro, Marcello Zavatta, Massimo Laus, Giovanna Lattanzi, Giovanna Cenacchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Satellite cells (SCs) are skeletal muscle progenitor cells located between the basal lamina and the sarcolemma of muscle fibers. They are responsible for muscle growth and repair. In humans, aging results in the depletion of the SC population and in its proliferative activity, but not in its function. It has not yet been determined whether under conditions of massive muscle fiber death in vivo, the regenerative potential of SCs is totally or partially compromised in old muscle. No studies have yet tested whether advanced age is a factor that restrains the response of SCs to muscle denervation in humans; this is also due to difficulties in the isolation and in the culture of SCs from a small human surgery fragment. The aim of this study was to study in depth muscle regeneration analysing the SC ability of SCs to proliferate and differentiate in aging human patients. Methods: In order to study in more detail the molecular mechanism, the proliferative and differentiative ability of aging SCs, we isolated SCs from aging human muscle biopsies and analysed their morphology by transmission electron microscopy and immunocytochemical analysis (antibodies against desmin, N-CAM and M-cadherin) and their capacity to grow and to expand in vitro. Moreover, in order to evaluate gene expression of myogenic regulatory factors Myf5, MyoD and myogenin (Myf4), RT-PCR was performed. Results and discussion: SCs isolated from aging human muscle biopsies and plated into favorable proliferation and differentiation conditions were able to proceed through the myogenic program and actively form myotubes, although taking longer than the young control sample. The RT-PCR analysis together with the ultrastructural SC features showed that the myogenic potential seemed to be compromised during the aging human muscle proliferation in vitro.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalNeurological Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Aging muscle
  • Culture of SCs
  • Human surgery fragment
  • Isolation of satellite cell
  • Satellite cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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