Satellite cell depletion does not inhibit adult skeletal muscle regrowth following unloading-induced atrophy

Janna R Jackson, Jyothi Mula, Tyler J Kirby, Christopher S Fry, Jonah D Lee, Margo F Ubele, Kenneth S Campbell, John J McCarthy, Charlotte A Peterson, Esther E Dupont-Versteegden

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115 Citations (Scopus)


Resident muscle stem cells, known as satellite cells, are thought to be the main mediators of skeletal muscle plasticity. Satellite cells are activated, replicate, and fuse into existing muscle fibers in response to both muscle injury and mechanical load. It is generally well-accepted that satellite cells participate in postnatal growth, hypertrophy, and muscle regeneration following injury; however, their role in muscle regrowth following an atrophic stimulus remains equivocal. The current study employed a genetic mouse model (Pax7-DTA) that allowed for the effective depletion of >90% of satellite cells in adult muscle upon the administration of tamoxifen. Vehicle and tamoxifen-treated young adult female mice were either hindlimb suspended for 14 days to induce muscle atrophy or hindlimb suspended for 14 days followed by 14 days of reloading to allow regrowth, or they remained ambulatory for the duration of the experimental protocol. Additionally, 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) was added to the drinking water to track cell proliferation. Soleus muscle atrophy, as measured by whole muscle wet weight, fiber cross-sectional area, and single-fiber width, occurred in response to suspension and did not differ between satellite cell-depleted and control muscles. Furthermore, the depletion of satellite cells did not attenuate muscle mass or force recovery during the 14-day reloading period, suggesting that satellite cells are not required for muscle regrowth. Myonuclear number was not altered during either the suspension or the reloading period in soleus muscle fibers from vehicle-treated or satellite cell-depleted animals. Thus, myonuclear domain size was reduced following suspension due to decreased cytoplasmic volume and was completely restored following reloading, independent of the presence of satellite cells. These results provide convincing evidence that satellite cells are not required for muscle regrowth following atrophy and that, instead, the myonuclear domain size changes as myofibers adapt.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)C854-61
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2012


  • Animals
  • Cell Death/physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Muscle, Skeletal/cytology
  • Muscular Atrophy/genetics
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle/cytology
  • Weight-Bearing/physiology

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