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Biomedical Reviews

An overview of the regeneration of skeletal muscle

Matthew Lawson-Smith, John K. McGeachie


It has only recently been acknowledged widely that mature skeletal muscle has the ability to regenerate, although reports on this phenomenon have existed in the research literature some 40 years. The regenerative events in skeletal muscle include: phagocytosis of cellular and connective tissue debris; revascularization of the lesion; the proliferation of myogenic precursor cells; their differentiation into myoblasts; myoblasts fusion into myotubes; followed by the reestablishment of the nerve supply, and the maturation of myotubes into muscle fibers. The key cell in skeletal muscle regeneration is the satellite cell, which is a reserve myogenic cell situated in between the muscle fiber sarcolemma and its adjacent external lamina. These cells can only by identified by electron microscopy, which makes them very difficult to investigate in detail or quantitatively. However, there is a substantial body of research literature on satellite cells and relevant aspects of their activity are summarized in this review. Satellite cells provide the source of myogenic precursor cells in the regeneration of skeletal muscle, therefore, any factor which stimulates the proliferative activity of satellite cells is very important in enhancing skeletal muscle regeneration. The cellular events in regenerating skeletal muscle closely resemble those which occur in the process of developmental myogenesis, and references to these similarities and differences are briefly reviewed.

Biomedical Reviews 1996; 6: 75-81.

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About The Authors

Matthew Lawson-Smith
University of Western Australia

John K. McGeachie
University of Western Australia

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