The aim of this study was to verify whether macrophages influence the fate of transplanted mesoangioblasts - vessel-associated myogenic precursors - in a model of sterile toxin-induced skeletal muscle injury. We have observed that in the absence of macrophages, transplanted mesoangioblasts do not yield novel fibers. Macrophages retrieved from skeletal muscles at various times after injury display features that resemble those of immunoregulatory macrophages. Indeed, they secrete IL-10 and express CD206 and CD163 membrane receptors and high amounts of arginase I. We have reconstituted the muscle-associated macrophage population by injecting polarized macrophages before mesoangioblast injection: alternatively activated, immunoregulatory macrophages only support mesoangioblast survival and function. This action depends on the secretion of IL-10 in the tissue. Our results reveal an unanticipated role for tissue macrophages in mesoangioblast function. Consequently, the treatment of muscle disorders with mesoangioblasts should take into consideration coexisting inflammatory pathways, whose activation may prove crucial for its success.
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