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Muscle Nerve. 2009 Sep;40(3):455-65. doi: 10.1002/mus.21369.

Assessment of satellite cell number and activity status in human skeletal muscle biopsies.

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Institute of Sports Medicine, Bispebjerg Hospital and Centre for Healthy Ageing, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Bakke 23, 2400 Copenhagen, Denmark.


The primary aim of our study was to validate the assessment of myonuclear and satellite cell number in biopsies from human skeletal muscle. We found that 25 type I and 25 type II fibers are sufficient to estimate the mean number of myonuclei per fiber. In contrast, the assessment of satellite cells improved when more fibers were included. Second, we report that small differences in counting satellite cells using CD56 and Pax7 antibodies can be attributed to the different staining profiles. Third, we provide support for the use of Ki67 in evaluating the proportion of active satellite cells. We observed very few (up to 1.3%) active satellite cells in healthy adult skeletal muscle at rest, but they increased significantly (up to 7-fold) following muscle activity. This study provides valuable tools to assess the behavior of satellite cells, both in pathological conditions and in response to physiological stimuli.

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