Cellular and molecular regulation of muscle regeneration

Physiol Rev. 2004 Jan;84(1):209-38. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00019.2003.


Under normal circumstances, mammalian adult skeletal muscle is a stable tissue with very little turnover of nuclei. However, upon injury, skeletal muscle has the remarkable ability to initiate a rapid and extensive repair process preventing the loss of muscle mass. Skeletal muscle repair is a highly synchronized process involving the activation of various cellular responses. The initial phase of muscle repair is characterized by necrosis of the damaged tissue and activation of an inflammatory response. This phase is rapidly followed by activation of myogenic cells to proliferate, differentiate, and fuse leading to new myofiber formation and reconstitution of a functional contractile apparatus. Activation of adult muscle satellite cells is a key element in this process. Muscle satellite cell activation resembles embryonic myogenesis in several ways including the de novo induction of the myogenic regulatory factors. Signaling factors released during the regenerating process have been identified, but their functions remain to be fully defined. In addition, recent evidence supports the possible contribution of adult stem cells in the muscle regeneration process. In particular, bone marrow-derived and muscle-derived stem cells contribute to new myofiber formation and to the satellite cell pool after injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Growth Substances / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle Development / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Regeneration / physiology*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cells / physiology


  • Growth Substances