One approach involves exercising the recipient following regenerative treatment. Young mice that are run on a treadmill following the transplantation of muscle-derived stem cells, for example, developed more new muscle cells and had improved strength than sedentary controls.

Because not everyone is able to undergo such physical exertion, scientists are also testing whether giving cells a mechanical workout in the lab prior to transplantation offers the same kinds of benefits. By stretching mesenchymal stem cells in vitro before injecting them into old mice, researchers have elicited improvements in muscle growth and strength similar to those seen in young mice.

              EXERCISING THE MUSCLE                                  EXERCISE THE CELL

(1) Mesenchymal stem cells obtained from hindlimb muscles of young mice
(1) Mesenchymal stem cells obtained from hindlimb muscles of young mice...

Illustrations by Kimberly Battista

Interested in reading more?

The Scientist ARCHIVES

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?