Replicative potential and telomere length in human skeletal muscle: implications for satellite cell-mediated gene therapy

Hum Gene Ther. 1997 Aug 10;8(12):1429-38. doi: 10.1089/hum.1997.8.12-1429.


In this study, we have evaluated the ability of human satellite cells isolated from subjects aged from 5 days to 86 years to proliferate in culture. Cells were cultivated until they became senescent. The number of cell divisions was calculated by counting the number of cells plated in culture compared to the number of cells removed following proliferation. Telomere length, which is known to decrease during each round of cell division, has been used to analyze the in vitro replicative capacity and in vivo replicative history of human satellite cells at isolation. The rate of telomere shortening in myonuclei of these muscle biopsies was also examined. Our results show that both proliferative capacity and telomere length of satellite cells decreases with age during the first two decades but that the myonuclei of human skeletal muscle are remarkably stable because telomere length in these myonuclei remains constant from birth to 86 years. The lack of shortening of mean terminal restriction fragments (TRF) in vivo confirms that skeletal muscle is a stable tissue with little nuclear turnover and therefore an ideal target for cell-mediated gene therapy. Moreover, our results show that it is important to consider donor age as a limiting factor to obtain an optimal number of cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitosis
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Phenotype
  • Telomere / genetics*