Abortive myogenesis in denervated skeletal muscle: differentiative properties of satellite cells, their migration, and block of terminal differentiation

Anat Embryol (Berl). 2005 Apr;209(4):269-79. doi: 10.1007/s00429-004-0429-7. Epub 2005 Mar 11.


Little is known about the biological properties of myogenic satellite cells during post-denervation muscle atrophy. The present study investigated the differentiative capacity of satellite cells and their involvement in the compensatory regenerative process in long-term denervated rat muscle. Electron microscopy and immunocytochemical labeling of muscle tissue 1-18 months following denervation demonstrated that despite activation of satellite cells, myogenesis in denervated muscle is abortive and does not lead to the formation of normal muscle fibers. Small sizes, poor development of the contractile system in newly formed denervated myotubes, and the absence of satellite cells on the surface indicate that their differentiation typically does not progress to terminal stages. Many immature myotubes degenerate, and others survive but are embedded in a collagen lattice near their parent fibers. Interestingly, newly formed myotubes located on the surface of parent muscle fibers beneath the basal lamina typically did not contain developed myofibrils. This suggests that the contacts of daughter and parent muscle fibers block myofibrillogenesis. Assembly of sarcomeres in most cases occurs following complete spatial separation of daughter and parent muscle fibers. Another manifestation of the involvement of myogenic precursors in abortive myogenesis is the formation of clusters of underdeveloped branching myotubes surrounded by a common basal lamina. We found that myoblasts can also fuse directly with differentiated muscle fibers. The presence of satellite cells near the openings in the basal lamina and in the interstitial space indicates that myogenic precursors can migrate through the basal lamina and form myotubes at a distance from parent fibers. Our data may explain why long-term denervated skeletal muscle has a poor capacity for regeneration and functional restoration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atrophy
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Rats
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / physiology*