Protein found to increase muscle growth after injury

Finding suggests potential for β1-integrin as a treatment target

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Jul 25, 2016

In a new study due published in Nature Medicine, β1-integrin has been demonstrated to promote the transformation of undifferentiated stem cells into muscle after tissue degradation, leading to improved muscle fiber growth.

The role of β1-integrin in muscle repair was examined through observation of the effects of its removal from aged stem cells. Following β1-integrin removal, growth after muscle injury could not be maintained. In addition, an array of proteins being monitored in order to track stem cell activity in aged muscles appeared to have been removed from the cells. An antibody to boost β1-integrin function was subsequently injected into aged muscle and found to increase muscle regeneration in aged mice by up to 50% versus non-injected controls.

Application of this β1-integrin boosting strategy to mice with muscular dystrophy led to increases in strength of approximately 35%. The team next plan to uncover the processes occurring as stem cells interact with their immediate environment, with the aim of refining the application of integrin as a therapy for muscular dystrophy and other diseases, and for age-related muscle degeneration. “We provide here a proof-of-principle study that may be broadly applicable to muscle diseases that involve SC (stem cell) niche dysfunction,” summarized the authors. “But further refinement is needed for this method to become a viable treatment.”

Written by Hannah Wilson

Source: Johns Hopkins University News Release

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