Pericytes resident in postnatal skeletal muscle differentiate into muscle fibres and generate satellite cells.
Dellavalle A., Maroli G., Covarello D., Azzoni E., Innocenzi A., Perani L., Antonini S., Sambasivan R., Brunelli S., Tajbakhsh S., Cossu G.
Skeletal muscle fibres form by fusion of mesoderm progenitors called myoblasts. After birth, muscle fibres do not increase in number but continue to grow in size because of fusion of satellite cells, the postnatal myogenic cells, responsible for muscle growth and regeneration. Numerous studies suggest that, on transplantation, non-myogenic cells also may contribute to muscle regeneration. However, there is currently no evidence that such a contribution represents a natural developmental option of these non-myogenic cells, rather than a consequence of experimental manipulation resulting in cell fusion. Here we show that pericytes, transgenically labelled with an inducible Alkaline Phosphatase CreERT2, but not endothelial cells, fuse with developing myofibres and enter the satellite cell compartment during unperturbed postnatal development. This contribution increases significantly during acute injury or in chronically regenerating dystrophic muscle. These data show that pericytes, resident in small vessels of skeletal muscle, contribute to its growth and regeneration during postnatal life.