Zebrafish model gives insight into early stages of muscle regeneration
A team of researchers from the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute at Monash University (Australia) has identified evidence of how muscle cells may be triggered to regenerate when damaged. It is hoped the research could lead to improvements in elderly care, muscle recovery in athletes and treatments for muscular dystrophy.
The study, published in the journal Science, was led by the Director of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute Peter Currie and utilised zebra fish to model muscle regeneration. Using this model, the team focused on adult muscle stem cells, known to exist in close proximity to mature muscle fibres. When muscle fibres are damaged, they send out projections in order to capture these stem cells, bringing them into the fibres and allowing regeneration of the damaged muscle.
Many hypotheses on the role of stem cells in muscle regeneration have been shared but, to date, their activation and control has only been fully investigated in vitro. However, through the use of advanced microscopic imaging, the process has now been observed in real-time in zebrafish.
It is hoped that this new insight into the movement and behaviour of these stem cells in the muscle repair process could take us one step closer to learning to trigger human muscle cells to regenerate, as Currie summarized: “This process has never been caught in action before. It could reveal how we might better stimulate these cells in our own muscles.”
Written by Hannah Wilson
Sources: Gurevich DB, Nguyen PD, Siegel AL. Asymmetric division of clonal muscle stem cells coordinates muscle regeneration in vivo. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aad9969 (2016) (Epub ahead of print); Monash University Press Release www.monash.edu/news/show/scientist-identify-first-steps-in-muscle-regeneration