Numerous studies have pharmacologically modulated the muscle milieu in the hopes of promoting muscle regeneration; however, the timing and duration of these interventions are difficult to determine. This study utilized a combination of in silico and in vivo experiments to investigate how inflammation manipulation improves muscle recovery following injury. First, we measured macrophage populations following laceration injury in the rat tibialis anterior (TA). Then we calibrated an agent-based model (ABM) of muscle injury to mimic the observed inflammation profiles. The calibrated ABM was used to simulate macrophage and satellite stem cell (SC) dynamics, and suggested that delivering macrophage colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) prior to injury would promote SC-mediated injury recovery. Next, we performed an experiment wherein 1 day prior to injury, we injected M-CSF into the rat TA muscle. M-CSF increased the number of macrophages during the first 4 days post-injury. Furthermore, treated muscles experienced a swifter increase in the appearance of PAX7+ SCs and regenerating muscle fibers. Our study suggests that computational models of muscle injury provide novel insights into cellular dynamics during regeneration, and further, that pharmacologically altering inflammation dynamics prior to injury can accelerate the muscle regeneration process.
Keywords: Agent-based model; Computational model; Inflammation; Macrophages; Muscle regeneration; Regenerative pharmacology; Satellite stem cells.