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lean muscle mass
chemical injections
muscle fibers
skeletal muscles
vigorous exercise
muscle cells
Stem Cells In Adult Muscle Tissue May Stimulate Better Muscle Health
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Stem Cells In Adult Muscle Tissue May Stimulate Better Muscle Health

Researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered specialized adult, stem cells deep in muscle fiber that may play a role in their health after being exposed to vigorous exercise. That discovery may eventually give researchers a path to follow to help define new therapeutic techniques that can be used to help during muscular injury as well as to prevent or restore muscular loss that occurs along with the normal aging process. Lean muscle mass starts to decline once an adult hits age forty and continues throughout the rest of life. Exercise can slow the process and in some cases may be able to restore some of the lost muscle, however, science has often wondered why it can happen in some people but not in others.

The cells, called mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs, are prevalent in skeletal muscles. They were previously proven to play a role in muscular response to non-physiological injuries, including during chemical injections which cause both muscular damage and increase physical inflammation. Inflammation in the body increases the risk of damage to vital structures and can also cause other conditions to be made worse.

The research, led by Marni Boppart, a kiniesiology and community health professor with the University of Illinois as well as an affiliate with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology used the understanding of how exercise affects muscles to ask a number of questions about the MSCs and how they worked within that process. For instance, it is known that exercise causes injuries, usually in the form of small tears in the muscular structure and that the muscle cells rebuild and repair during rest. But, Boppart wanted to see how the MSCs accumulate and what part they play in the rebuilding process.

The research, using mice, found that after muscular strain caused by vigorous exercise, MSC levels was greatly enhanced. While they do not directly build muscle fibers, these cells did cause certain growth factors to be released which did lead to the repair work. Each of the mice were given exercise so that the growth factor would be released and then their muscular cells isolated. Those cells were then collected and dyed to be more easily spotted. Those cells were then injected into other mice to determine how they would behave. Boppart's team found the MSC's reacted by spurring growth factors even in the mice who did not exercise or have any muscular damage to repair.


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