Engineered skeletal muscle holds promise as a source of graft tissue for the repair of traumatic injuries such as volumetric muscle loss. The resident skeletal muscle stem cell, the satellite cell, has been identified as an ideal progenitor for tissue engineering due to its role as an essential player in the potent skeletal muscle regeneration mechanism. A significant challenge facing tissue engineers, however, is the isolation of sufficiently large satellite cell populations with high purity. The two common isolation techniques, single fiber explant culture and enzymatic dissociation, can yield either a highly pure satellite cell population or a suitably large number or cells but fail to do both simultaneously. As a result, it is often necessary to use a purification technique such as pre-plating or cell sorting to enrich the satellite cell population post-isolation. Furthermore, the absence of complex chemical and biophysical cues influencing the in vivo satellite cell "niche" complicates the culture of isolated satellite cells. Techniques under investigation to maximize myogenic proliferation and differentiation in vitro are described in this article, along with current methods for isolating and purifying satellite cells.
Keywords: Cell population; Enzymatic dissociation; Skeletal muscle tissue.