Muscle satellite cells have long been considered a distinct myogenic lineage responsible for postnatal growth, repair, and maintenance of skeletal muscle. Recent studies in mice, however, have revealed the potential for highly purified hematopoietic stem cells from bone marrow to participate in muscle regeneration. Perhaps more significantly, a population of putative stem cells isolated directly from skeletal muscle efficiently reconstitutes the hematopoietic compartment and participates in muscle regeneration following intravenous injection in mice. The plasticity of muscle stem cells has raised important questions regarding the relationship between the muscle-derived stem cells and the skeletal muscle satellite cells. Furthermore, the ability of hematopoietic cells to undergo myogenesis has prompted new investigations into the embryonic origin of satellite cells. Recent developmental studies suggest that a population of satellite cells is derived from progenitors in the embryonic vasculature. Taken together, these studies provide the first evidence that pluripotential stem cells are present within adult skeletal muscle. Tissue-specific stem cells, including satellite cells, may share a common embryonic origin and possess the capacity to activate diverse genetic programs in response to environmental stimuli. Manipulation of such tissue-specific stem cells may eventually revolutionize therapies for degenerative diseases, including muscular dystrophy.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.