Age-dependent alteration in muscle regeneration: the critical role of tissue niche
Although adult skeletal muscle is composed of fully differentiated fibers, it retains the capacity to regenerate in response to injury and to modify its contractile and metabolic properties in response to changing demands. The major role in the growth, remodeling and regeneration is played by satellite cells, a quiescent population of myogenic precursor cells that reside between the basal lamina and plasmalemma and that are rapidly activated in response to appropriate stimuli. However, in pathologic conditions or during aging, the complete regenerative program can be precluded by fibrotic tissue formation and resulting in functional impairment of the skeletal muscle. Our study, along with other studies, demonstrated that although the regenerative program can also be impaired by the limited proliferative capacity of satellite cells, this limit is not reached during normal aging, and it is more likely that the restricted muscle repair program in aging is presumably due to missing signals that usually render the damaged muscle a permissive environment for regenerative activity.