Printer Friendly

Dyeing to find muscle stem cells.

While the strategy of transplanting muscle cells into people with muscular dystrophies or other muscle diseases makes sense in theory, it has not lived up to its promise. Few transplanted muscle cells survive and form new muscle fibers, notes Louis M. Kunkel of Children's Hospital in Boston. The problem appears to be that most transplanted cells are too set in their ways to regenerate muscle tissues. What's needed, says Kunkel, are muscle stem cells--less specialized cells whose sole purpose is to create new muscle.

At last month's American Society of Gene Therapy meeting in Washington, D.C., Kunkel's coworker Emanuela Gussoni reported progress in finding such stem cells. She, Kunkel, and their colleagues treated muscle tissue with a dye and found a population of cells that took up less of the dye than others did. The researchers borrowed the strategy from Richard Mulligan, also at Children's Hospital, who had accidentally found that a similar difference in dye uptake helps identify blood-forming stem cells in bone marrow.

Hoping that their dye-resistant subpopulation of cells was rich in muscle stem cells, Gussoni and her team injected the cells into female mice having a genetic condition similar to a muscular dystrophy. To prevent rejection of the foreign cells, the researchers irradiated the rodents to destroy their immune systems.

Since the transplanted cells came from male mice, the researchers followed the cells' survival and proliferation by looking for Y chromosomes. After 3 months, around 5 percent of the female rodents' muscle tissue contained cells with a Y chromosome, says Kunkel. The new cells were also making dystrophin, a crucial muscle protein that mice with the dystrophy-like condition are unable to make.

Curiously, bone marrow and spleen tissue also harbored cells with a Y chromosome, indicating that the transplanted cells gave rise to more than muscle. The cellular conversion may go both ways. A report last year showed that bone marrow cells can generate new muscle in addition to blood cells (SN: 3/7/98, p. 150).

Kunkel's team is now trying to determine how muscle stem cells injected into the bloodstream find their way to muscle tissue. For example, the scientists are examining whether exercise that breaks down muscle tissue stimulates the release of a signal that draws stem cells to the area.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:research into the use of muscle stem cell transplantation in order to combat muscle diseases
Author:J.T.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 17, 1999
Words:379
Previous Article:Watery prospects: Shoot the moon.
Next Article:A surprising tale of a frog's tail.
Topics:


Related Articles
Recycling bone marrow transplantation.
Bone marrow cells can build new muscle.
Mending a Broken Heart; Cell transplants may someday cure heart failure.
Stem cells: the next cure? (Life/Tech Science: Stem Cells * Disease).
Embryonic stem cells: the end doesn't justify the means: Stem-cell research holds great promise for treating many diseases. But such promise, argues...
Unfertilized monkey eggs make stem cells. (Biology).
Cells in heart can regenerate dead tissue.
Have stem cells finally arrived? Despite fraud and controversy, signs point to an emerging, money-making industry.
Derailing a disease: stem cells slow dogs' muscular dystrophy.
Female stem cells flourish: sex difference could affect therapies.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters