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Exp Cell Res. 2010 Nov 1;316(18):3059-66. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2010.04.009. Epub 2010 Apr 18.

Signalling and the control of skeletal muscle size.

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School of Biological Sciences, Hopkins Building, University of Reading, Whiteknights Campus, Reading, Berkshire, UK.


Skeletal muscle is highly adaptive to environmental stimuli and can alter its mass accordingly. This tissue is almost unique in that it can increase its size through two distinct mechanisms. It can grow through a cellular process mediated by cell fusion, or it can increase its size simply by increasing its protein content. Understanding how these processes are regulated is crucial for the development of potential therapies against debilitating skeletal muscle wasting diseases. Two key signalling molecules, Insulin like Growth Factor (IGF) and GDF-8/myostatin, have emerged in recent years to be potent regulators of skeletal muscle size. In this review we bring together recent data highlighting the important and novel aspects of both molecules and their signalling pathways, culminating in a discussion of the cellular and tissue phenotypic outcomes of their stimulation or antagonism. We emphasise the complex regulatory mechanisms and discuss the temporal and spatial differences that control their action, understanding of which is crucial to further their use as potential therapeutic targets.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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