Skeletal muscle regenerates after injury. Tissue remodelling, which takes place during muscle regeneration, is a complex process involving proteolytic enzymes. It is inferred that micro and milli calpains are involved in the protein turnover and structural adaptation associated with muscle myolysis and reconstruction. Using a whole-crush injured skeletal muscle, we previously have shown that in vivo muscle treatment with synthetic heparan sulfate mimetics, called RGTAs (for ReGeneraTing Agents), greatly accelerates and improves muscle regeneration after crushing. This effect was particularly striking in the case of the slow muscle Soleus that otherwise would be atrophied. Therefore, we used this regeneration model to study milli and micro calpain expressions in the regenerating Soleus muscle and to address the question of a possible effect of RGTAs treatment on calpain levels. Micro and milli calpain contents increased by about five times to culminate at days 7 and 14 after crushing respectively, thus during the phases of fibre reconstruction and reinnervation. After 64 days of regeneration, muscles still displayed higher levels of both calpains than an intact uninjured muscle. Milli calpain detected by immunocytochemistry was shown in the cytoplasm whereas micro calpain was in both nuclei and cytoplasm in small myofibres but appeared almost exclusively in nuclei of more mature fibres. Interestingly, the treatment of muscles with RGTA highly reduced the increase of both milli and micro calpain contents in Soleus regenerating muscles. These results suggest that the improvement of muscle regeneration induced by RGTA may be partly mediated by minimising the consequences of calpain activity.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.