After exercise, muscles have more stem cells

Source:, 25 January 2012 (Released 18 January, 2012)

U. ILLINOIS (US) — A single bout of exercise in mice leads to an increase in the type of stem cell that aids in healing injury or disease in skeletal muscle.

Researcher Marni Boppart and her collaborators have shown for the first time that just one exercise session in mice leads to an accumulation of what are called muscle-derived mesenchymal stem cells (or mMSCs).

These stem cells are found throughout the body and can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including for enhancement of tissue regeneration. They also can indirectly facilitate tissue healing, as was found in this study.

“What we’ve been able to show in this paper and our current work is that mMSCs are not directly contributing to muscle growth, but do in fact secrete a variety of different factors that positively impact muscle growth” says Boppart, an assistant professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois and a researcher at the Beckman Institute.

“The cells usually respond to injury but in the case of exercise what we think, and this is a very novel phenotype for these cells, is that they secrete the factors specifically in response to mechanical strain.

“We are very excited because this work is an important step towards developing effective interventions that can prevent the loss of muscle that occurs with aging and disease.”

Boppart and her collaborators reported their work in the journal PlosOne, describing the importance of maintaining skeletal muscle mass for overall health, especially when it comes to exercise or rehabilitation activities.

They also point out why it’s important to understand the body’s responses to factors like exercise and injury: “Engagement in physical activity or rehabilitation therapy can preserve muscle mass and function. Therefore, identification of the critical mechanisms that underlie beneficial adaptations to physical activity can be informative in the development of effective molecular- or cell-based therapies.”

See the original study
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