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Keywords:

  • Adult stem cells;
  • Bone marrow;
  • Hematopoietic stem cells;
  • Muscle stem cells;
  • Somatic stem cell transdifferentiation

Abstract

To investigate the factors that regulate incorporation into uninjured or damaged skeletal muscle of donor markers derived from unfractionated bone marrow (BM) cells or from highly purified c-kit+Thy1.1loLinSca-1+ hemato-poietic stem cells (HSCs), we evaluated myofiber chimerism of multiple muscle groups in irradiated and transplanted recipient mice and in unirradiated parabiotic animals. Uninjured panniculus carnosus, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles infrequently incorporated donor markers into myofibers in a subset of animals after either BM or HSC transplantation; however, acute muscle injury was essential to elicit contributions to triceps surae (TS) and tibialis anterior muscles. The low level of incorporation of donor marker–expressing myofibers could not be enhanced either by transplantation into newborn recipients or by induced migration of HSCs into the periphery. Analysis of muscle chimerism in unirradiated animals joined surgically by parabiosis revealed that contributions of circulating cells to myofibers in the TS were injury dependent and that at least some circulating cells with the potential to contribute to regenerating muscle derive from BM, suggesting that hematoablative preconditioning is not required for such contributions. In all cases tested, donor-derived myofibers expressed both donor-specific and host-specific markers, suggesting that they arise by low-level fusion into skeletal muscle of cells that can include the progeny of HSCs. It is not yet clear whether such events represent a normal myogenic pathway or a pathological response to muscle damage.