Stem Cells

Environment Matters

Science Signaling  31 Aug 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 137, pp. ec269
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3137ec269

Stem cells isolated from muscle can be used for muscle regeneration—but only if the stem cells are fresh. Under standard cell culture conditions in the laboratory, muscle stem cells fail to proliferate efficiently and lose their regenerative capacity. Gilbert et al. (see the Perspective by Bhatia) built an in vitro culture system that resembles the physical characteristics in which muscle stem cells normally reside: a squishy elastic bed (rather than the hard slab of a plastic culture flask). Laminin tethered to hydrogels was used to generate substrates of varying elasticity. When cultured on these substrates, muscle stem cells remained undifferentiated and were able to support muscle regeneration when transplanted back into mice.

P. M. Gilbert, K. L. Havenstrite, K. E. G. Magnusson, A. Sacco, N. A. Leonardi, P. Kraft, N. K. Nguyen, S. Thrun, M. P. Lutolf, H. M. Blau, Substrate elasticity regulates skeletal muscle stem cell self-renewal in culture. Science 329, 1078–1081 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]

M. Bhatia, Microenvironment mimicry. Science 329, 1024–1025 (2010). [Summary] [Full Text]