Exercise Stimulates Stem Cells in Muscle
A link between exercise and muscle health may exist, scientists at the University of Illinois have found. According to Medical News Today, researchers have found that an adult stem cell present in muscle responds to exercise.
Researchers hope their findings will lead to the use of these cells to rehabilitate injured muscles and even prevent or restore muscle loss with age.
“There’s nothing we can do to totally prevent the process,” said study leader Marni Boppart. “[But] we think that by utilizing the process that we can slow the process down.”
To discover this link, researchers observed stem cell accumulation in the muscles of mice after vigorous exercise. Boppart said her team found that the Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in muscles were responsive, and could be used to indirectly create new muscle fibers and build tissue in the blood vessels or bone.
MSCs work by releasing growth factors that promote other muscle cells to create new muscle, and by providing the cellular basis for greater muscle health after exercise, Medical News Today said.
Boppart said the findings are exciting because they will work to benefit both healthy people and those suffering from muscle loss.
“These findings are important because we’ve identified an adult stem cell in muscle that may provide the basis for muscle health with exercise and enhanced muscle healing with rehabilitation/movement therapy,” she said. “The fact that MSCs in muscle have the potential to release high concentrations of growth factor into the circulatory system during exercise also makes us wonder if they provide a critical link between enhanced whole-body health and participation in routine physical activity.”
Boppart said her team’s next step is to determine whether the cells have a role in the decline in muscle mass over a person’s lifetime. For now, she recommends exercise as the best way to preserve muscle mass in old age.