Emerging skeletal muscle stromal cell diversity: Functional divergence in fibro/adipogenic progenitor and mural cell populations

Exp Cell Res. 2022 Jan 1;410(1):112947. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2021.112947. Epub 2021 Nov 22.


While the majority of healthy skeletal muscle consists of multinucleated syncytial repetitive contractile myofibers, repaired by skeletal muscle stem cells when damaged, the maintenance of muscle function also requires a range of tissue-resident stromal populations. In fact, the careful orchestration of damage response processes upon muscle injury relies heavily on stromal cell contribution for effective repair. The two main types of muscle-resident stromal cells are fibro/adipogenic progenitors and mural cells. The latter is comprised of pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. Recent publications identifying common markers for stromal cell populations have allowed investigating population dynamics throughout the regenerative process at a higher resolution. Mounting evidence now suggests that subpopulations with distinct roles may exist among stromal cells. In various degenerative muscle wasting conditions, critical cross-talk and spatial signalling amongst various cell populations become dysregulated. This can result in the failure to curb pathological fibro/adipogenic progenitor proliferation and propensity for laying down excessive extracellular matrix, which in turn leads to fibrotic infiltration, reduced contractile units and gradual decline in muscle function. Restoration of physiologically appropriate stromal cell function is therefore just as crucial for therapeutic targeting as the homeostatic maintenance of muscle function.

Keywords: Fibro/adipogenic progenitor; Mesenchymal stromal cell; Pericyte; Skeletal muscle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Pericytes / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*

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