Satellite cell content is specifically reduced in type II skeletal muscle fibers in the elderly

L.B. Verdijk*, R. Koopman, G. Schaart, K. Meijer, H.H.C.M. Savelberg, L.J. van Loon

*Corresponding author for this work

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Satellite cells (SC) are essential for skeletal muscle growth and repair. As sarcopenia is associated with type II muscle fiber atrophy, we hypothesized that SC content is specifically reduced in the type II fibers in the elderly. A total of 8 elderly (E:76+/-1y) and 8 young (Y:20+/-1y) healthy males were selected. Muscle biopsies were collected from the vastus lateralis in both legs. ATPase staining and a pax7-antibody were used to determine fiber type specific SC content (i.e. pax7-positive SC) on serial muscle cross-sections. In contrast to the type I fibers, the proportion and mean cross-sectional area of the type II fibers were substantially reduced in the E versus the Y. The number of SC per type I fiber was similar in E and Y. However, the number of SC per type II fiber was substantially lower in the E versus the Y (0.044+/-0.003 vs 0.080+/-0.007; P<0.01). In addition, in the type II fibers the number of SC relative to the total number of nuclei and the number of SC per fiber area were also significantly lower in the E. This study is the first to show type II fiber atrophy in the elderly to be associated with a fiber type specific decline in SC content. The latter is evident when SC content is expressed per fiber or per fiber area. The decline in SC content might be an important factor in the etiology of type II muscle fiber atrophy, which accompanies the loss of skeletal muscle with aging. Key words: skeletal muscle, sarcopenia, muscle stem cells, atrophy, metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E151-E157
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology : Endocrinology and Metabolism
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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