Stem cell review series: aging of the skeletal muscle stem cell niche

Aging Cell. 2008 Aug;7(4):590-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2008.00399.x. Epub 2008 Jun 28.


Declining stem cell function during aging contributes to impaired tissue function. Muscle-specific stem cells ('satellite cells') are responsible for generating new muscle in response to injury in the adult. However, aged muscle displays a significant reduction in regenerative abilities and an increased susceptibility to age-related pathologies. This review describes components of the satellite cell niche and addresses how age-related changes in these components impinge on satellite cell function. In particular, we review changes in the key niche elements, the myofiber and the basal lamina that are in intimate contact with satellite cells. We address how these elements are influenced by factors secreted by interstitial cells, cells of the immune system, and cells associated with the vasculature, all of which change with age. In addition, we consider more distant sources of influence on the satellite cell niche that change with age, such as neural-mediated trophic factors and electrical activity and systemic factors present in the circulation. A better understanding of the niche elements and their influence on the satellite cell will facilitate the development of therapeutic interventions aimed at improving satellite cell activity and ultimately tissue response to injury in aged individuals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System / cytology
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / cytology
  • Stem Cells / cytology*