During aging, skeletal muscle tissue progressively declines in mass, strength, and regenerative capacity. Decreased muscle stem cell (MuSC) number and impaired function might underlie the aging-related muscle wasting and impaired regenerative capacity. As yet, the search for factors that regulate MuSC fate and function has revealed several biochemical factors within the MuSC niche that may be responsible for the decline in MuSC regenerative capacity. This decline cannot be explained by environmental factors solely, as the MuSC potential to regenerate muscle tissue is not reversed by changing the biochemical MuSC niche composition. Here we discuss the likeliness that during physical exercise, MuSCs within their niche are subjected to mechanical loads, in particular pressure and shear stress, as well as associated deformations. We postulate that these physical cues are involved in the activation and differentiation of MuSCs as these cells contain several transmembrane sensor proteins that have been shown to be mechanosensitive in other cell types, that is, endothelial cells and osteoprogenitors. We will specifically address age-related changes in mechanosensing in MuSCs and their niche. Insight in the physical cues applied to the MuSCs in vivo, and how these cues affect MuSC fate and function, helps to develop new therapeutic interventions to counterbalance age-related muscle loss. This requires an approach combining two- and three-dimensional live cell imaging of MuSCs within contracting muscle tissue, mathematical finite element modeling, and cell biology. © 2017 The Authors. Journal of Orthopaedic Research® Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the Orthopaedic Research Society. J Orthop Res 36:632-641, 2018.
Keywords: aging; mechanosensitivity; mechanotransduction; muscle regeneration; muscle stem cell; satellite cell.
© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Orthopaedic Research® Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the Orthopaedic Research Society.