A key determinant of geriatric frailty is sarcopenia, the age-associated loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Although the etiology of sarcopenia is unknown, the correlation during aging between the loss of activity of satellite cells, which are endogenous muscle stem cells, and impaired muscle regenerative capacity has led to the hypothesis that the loss of satellite cell activity is also a cause of sarcopenia. We tested this hypothesis in male sedentary mice by experimentally depleting satellite cells in young adult animals to a degree sufficient to impair regeneration throughout the rest of their lives. A detailed analysis of multiple muscles harvested at various time points during aging in different cohorts of these mice showed that the muscles were of normal size, despite low regenerative capacity, but did have increased fibrosis. These results suggest that lifelong reduction of satellite cells neither accelerated nor exacerbated sarcopenia and that satellite cells did not contribute to the maintenance of muscle size or fiber type composition during aging, but that their loss may contribute to age-related muscle fibrosis.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Nature Medicine, v. 21, no. 1, p. 76-80.

The document available for download is the authors' post-peer-review final draft of the article.

The publisher allows authors to archive the accepted version of their article in their institution's repositories six months after the original publication.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)