According to researchers a group of cells, called satellite cells, that line the outside of muscle fibers may help older people maintain their youthfulness. These cells rescue damaged muscles and divide to form new muscle tissue. They also generate new cells for future repairs. Previous studies have shown satellite cells respond when a certain protein called Notch is activated by another protein called Delta.
Researchers found that young, middle-aged, and older mice had the same number of satellite cells in their muscles, which contained equal amounts of Notch. Results showed young mice produced more of the Delta molecule than older mice. When researchers applied a Delta-like molecule to injured, older muscles, satellite cells began to divide much like those in younger muscle. Researchers say these older muscles had a regenerative ability similar to that of younger muscle.
Researchers conclude saying that their findings could help those who experience muscle atrophy such as the elderly, astronauts, and patients who are put on bed rest.