Role of muscle stem cells in sarcopenia

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Purpose of review

The review is an update on recent research investigating the role of skeletal muscle stem cells (also known as satellite cells) during muscle fiber regeneration and growth in animal and human skeletal muscle, with an emphasis on their role in age-related sarcopenia.

Recent findings

Studies indicate clear impairments in satellite cell function with aging, resulting in an impaired muscle fiber regenerative response. The autophagy-mediated switch to an irreversible presenescent state of geriatric satellite cells appears to play a key role in age-related impaired satellite cell function. In addition, inadequate muscle fiber vascularization may be a crucial factor underlying impaired regulation of satellite cells in older adults. Controversy remains on the actual contribution of satellite cells to the development of sarcopenia in later life, this clearly requires further research. Nevertheless, exercise training remains to be a potent intervention strategy, mediated through satellite cells or not, to counteract the ill effects of sarcopenia.


Although important strides are made investigating the importance of satellite cells in the development and/or treatment of sarcopenia, the idea that satellite cell function is a therapeutic target to treat sarcopenia remains controversial.

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