Satellite cell-mediated breast muscle regeneration decreases with broiler size
Satellite cells (SCs) reside between the sarcolemma and basal lamina of muscle fibers and are the primary contributor of DNA for post-hatch muscle growth and repair. Alterations in SC content or properties by intrinsic and extrinsic factors can have detrimental effects on muscle health and function, and ultimately meat quality. We hypothesized that disrupted SC homeostasis may account in part for the increased breast myopathies observed in growing broilers. To test this hypothesis, we selected broilers with different body weights at comparable ages and studied SC characteristics in vitro and in vivo. Data shows that SC numbers in the breast muscles decrease (P < 0.001) and their inherent abilities to proliferate and differentiate diminish (P < 0.001) with age and size. Further, when breast muscle is presented with an insult, muscle of larger broilers regenerates more slowly than their smaller, age-matched counterparts arguing that SC quality changes with size and age. Together, our studies show that birds with greater muscle hypertrophy have less SCs with diminished ability to function, and suggest that aggressive selection for breast growth in broilers may exhaust SC pools when birds are grown to heavier processing weights. These findings provide new insights into a possible mechanism leading to breast myopathies in the poultry industry and provide targets for mitigating adverse fresh breast quality.