Altered satellite cell dynamics accompany skeletal muscle atrophy during chronic illness, disuse, and aging

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2017 Nov;20(6):447-452. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000409.


Purpose of review: This review explores recent research investigating the contribution of satellite cells (skeletal muscle stem cells) during muscle fiber atrophy as seen in periods of disuse, illness, and aging.

Recent findings: Studies indicate reduced satellite cell activity and density in a variety of acute and chronic conditions characterized by robust muscle wasting. The direct contribution of satellite cells to unloading/denervation and chronic illness-induced atrophy remains controversial. Inflammation that accompanies acute trauma and illness likely impedes proper satellite cell differentiation and myogenesis, promoting the rapid onset of muscle wasting in these conditions. Transgenic mouse studies provide surprising evidence that age-related declines in satellite cell function and abundance are not causally related to the onset of sarcopenia in sedentary animals.

Summary: Recent clinical and preclinical studies indicate reduced abundance and dysregulated satellite cell activity that accompany muscle atrophy during periods of disuse, illness, and aging, providing evidence for their therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Muscle Development
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Sarcopenia / pathology*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / pathology*