Nerve growth factor improves the muscle regeneration capacity of muscle stem cells in dystrophic muscle

Mitra Lavasani, Aiping Lu, Hairong Peng, James Cummins, Johnny Huard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Researchers have attempted to use gene- and cell-based therapies to restore dystrophin and alleviate the muscle weakness that results from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Our research group has isolated populations of muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) from the postnatal skeletal muscle of mice. In comparison with satellite cells, MDSCs display an improved transplantation capacity in dystrophic max muscle that we attribute to their ability to undergo long-term proliferation, self-renewal, and multipotent differentiation, including differentiation toward endothelial and neuronal lineages. Here we tested whether the use of nerve growth factor (NGF) improves the transplantation efficiency of MDSCs. We used two methods of in vitro NGF stimulation: retroviral transduction of MDSCs with a CL-NGF vector and direct stimulation of MDSCs with NGF protein. Neither method of NGF treatment changed the marker profile or proliferation behavior of the MDSCs, but direct stimulation with NGF protein significantly reduced the in vitro differentiation ability of the cells. NGF stimulation also significantly enhanced the engraftment efficiency of MDSCs transplanted within the dystropliic muscle of max mice, resulting in the regeneration of numerous dystrophin-positive muscle fibers. These findings highlight the importance of NGF as a modulatory molecule, the study of which will broaden our understanding of its biologic role in the regeneration and repair of skeletal muscle by muscle-derived cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)180-192
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Gene Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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