1. Key Laboratory of Biorheological Science and Technology, Ministry of Education, College of Bioengineering, Chongqing University, Chongqing 400044, China.
2. Department of Hematology, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University (Army Medical University), Chongqing 400038, China.
3. Clinical hematology, Third Military Medical University (Army Medical University), Chongqing 400038, China.
4. Medical Research Center, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University (Army Medical University), Chongqing 400038, China.
Background and Purpose: The exhaustion of muscle satellite cells (SCs) is correlated with muscle diseases, including sarcopenia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Exercise benefits skeletal muscle homeostasis and promotes proliferation of SCs. Elucidating the molecular mechanism underlying the muscle function-improving effect of exercise has important implications in regenerative medicine.
Methods: Herein, we investigated the effect of 4-week treadmill training on skeletal muscle and SCs in mice. Hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining was utilized to detect the morphometry of skeletal muscles. Flow cytometry and immunofluorescence were conducted to analyze the abundance and cell cycle of SCs. RNA sequencing was performed to elucidate the transcriptional regulatory network of SCs. The ChIP-PCR assay was used to detect enrichment of H3K27ac at the promoters of Akt.
Results: We observed that exercise resulted in muscle hypertrophy and improved muscle regeneration in mice. Unexpectedly, exercise promoted cell cycling but suppressed the Akt-mTOR pathway in SCs. Proliferative SCs in “exercised mice” required suppressed mTOR activity to limit mitochondrial metabolism, maintaining the “limited activation status” of SCs against exhaustion. Mechanistically, exercise upregulated the expression of Igfbp7, thereby impeding the phosphorylation of Akt and resulting in inhibited mTOR activity and limited mitochondrial metabolism. The limited mitochondrial metabolism resulted in hypoacetylation of histone 3 and reduced enrichment of H3K27ac at promoters of Akt, decreasing the transcription of Akt. Moreover, repeatedly injured mice showed a preserved SC pool and improved muscle regeneration by the suppression of Akt-mTOR signaling.
Conclusions: The findings of our study show that exercise protects proliferative SCs against exhaustion via the Igfbp7-Akt-mTOR axis. These findings establish a link between mechanical signaling, mitochondrial metabolism, epigenetic modification, and stem cell fate decisions; thus, present potential therapeutic targets for muscle diseases correlated with SC exhaustion.
Keywords: Exercise, Muscle satellite cells (SCs), Exhaustion, mTOR, Igfbp7