Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and ameliorates age-related pathologies in most species studied, yet the mechanisms underlying these effects remain unclear. Using mouse skeletal muscle as a model, we show that CR acts in part by enhancing the function of tissue-specific stem cells. Even short-term CR significantly enhanced stem cell availability and activity in the muscle of young and old animals, in concert with an increase in mitochondrial abundance and induction of conserved metabolic and longevity regulators. Moreover, CR enhanced endogenous muscle repair and CR initiated in either donor or recipient animals improved the contribution of donor cells to regenerating muscle after transplant. These studies indicate that metabolic factors play a critical role in regulating stem cell function and that this regulation can influence the efficacy of recovery from injury and the engraftment of transplanted cells.
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