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J Cell Mol Med. 2011 Jan;15(1):119-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2009.00942.x.

Aldehyde dehydrogenase activity promotes survival of human muscle precursor cells.

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INSERM, ERI 25, Muscle et Pathologies, Montpellier, France.


Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) are a family of enzymes that efficiently detoxify aldehydic products generated by reactive oxygen species and might therefore participate in cell survival. Because ALDH activity has been used to identify normal and malignant cells with stem cell properties, we asked whether human myogenic precursor cells (myoblasts) could be identified and isolated based on their levels of ALDH activity. Human muscle explant-derived cells were incubated with ALDEFLUOR, a fluorescent substrate for ALDH, and we determined by flow cytometry the level of enzyme activity. We found that ALDH activity positively correlated with the myoblast-CD56(+) fraction in those cells, but, we also observed heterogeneity of ALDH activity levels within CD56-purified myoblasts. Using lentiviral mediated expression of shRNA we demonstrated that ALDH activity was associated with expression of Aldh1a1 protein. Surprisingly, ALDH activity and Aldh1a1 expression levels were very low in mouse, rat, rabbit and non-human primate myoblasts. Using different approaches, from pharmacological inhibition of ALDH activity by diethylaminobenzaldehyde, an inhibitor of class I ALDH, to cell fractionation by flow cytometry using the ALDEFLUOR assay, we characterized human myoblasts expressing low or high levels of ALDH. We correlated high ALDH activity ex vivo to resistance to hydrogen peroxide (H(2) O(2) )-induced cytotoxic effect and in vivo to improved cell viability when human myoblasts were transplanted into host muscle of immune deficient scid mice. Therefore detection of ALDH activity, as a purification strategy, could allow non-toxic and efficient isolation of a fraction of human myoblasts resistant to cytotoxic damage.

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