Anabolic potential and regulation of the skeletal muscle satellite cell populations

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Purpose of review

Satellite cells are required for muscle regeneration to occur properly. An understanding of the mechanisms that increase their number is important for potential therapeutic use in a variety of muscle disorders.

Recent findings

This article reviews the state of knowledge regarding mechanisms and factors involved in regulating the satellite cell population. An overview of the soluble factors intrinsic to the regulation of the activation, proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells is presented. We also highlight our current knowledge of satellite cell specification that provides a potential basis for increasing satellite cell numbers by manipulating different cell types. Finally, summarizing our current knowledge of satellite cell self-renewal offers insight for possible avenues to increase the supply of satellite cells.


Multiple approaches for increasing the number and activity of satellite cells will lead to treatments for muscular diseases. For example, in muscular dystrophy the exhaustion of satellite cells is the principal cause of death.

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