• Open Access

Relative roles of TGF-β1 and Wnt in the systemic regulation and aging of satellite cell responses


Morgan Carlson, Department of Bioengineering, UC Berkeley, B104 Stanley Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. Tel.: +1 (510) 666-2793; fax: +1 (510) 642-5835; e-mail: mcarlson@berkeley.edu


Muscle stem (satellite) cells are relatively resistant to cell-autonomous aging. Instead, their endogenous signaling profile and regenerative capacity is strongly influenced by the aged P-Smad3, differentiated niche, and by the aged circulation. With respect to muscle fibers, we previously established that a shift from active Notch to excessive transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) induces CDK inhibitors in satellite cells, thereby interfering with productive myogenic responses. In contrast, the systemic inhibitor of muscle repair, elevated in old sera, was suggested to be Wnt. Here, we examined the age-dependent myogenic activity of sera TGF-β1, and its potential cross-talk with systemic Wnt. We found that sera TGF-β1 becomes elevated within aged humans and mice, while systemic Wnt remained undetectable in these species. Wnt also failed to inhibit satellite cell myogenicity, while TGF-β1 suppressed regenerative potential in a biphasic fashion. Intriguingly, young levels of TGF-β1 were inhibitory and young sera suppressed myogenesis if TGF-β1 was activated. Our data suggest that platelet-derived sera TGF-β1 levels, or endocrine TGF-β1 levels, do not explain the age-dependent inhibition of muscle regeneration by this cytokine. In vivo, TGF-β neutralizing antibody, or a soluble decoy, failed to reduce systemic TGF-β1 and rescue myogenesis in old mice. However, muscle regeneration was improved by the systemic delivery of a TGF-β receptor kinase inhibitor, which attenuated TGF-β signaling in skeletal muscle. Summarily, these findings argue against the endocrine path of a TGF-β1-dependent block on muscle regeneration, identify physiological modalities of age-imposed changes in TGF-β1, and introduce new therapeutic strategies for the broad restoration of aged organ repair.