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Culture of skeletal myoblasts from human donors aged over 40 years: dynamics of cell growth and expression of differentiation markers

Andreina Baj1, Alessia A Bettaccini1, Rosario Casalone1, Andrea Sala2, Paolo Cherubino3 and Antonio Q Toniolo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, University of Insubria Medical School, 21100 Varese, Italy

2 Department of Surgery, University of Insubria Medical School, 21100 Varese, Italy

3 Department of Orthopedics, University of Insubria Medical School, 21100 Varese, Italy

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Journal of Translational Medicine 2005, 3:21  doi:10.1186/1479-5876-3-21

Published: 12 May 2005



Local myogenesis, neoangiogenesis and homing of progenitor cells from the bone marrow appear to contribute to repair of the infarcted myocardium. Implantation into heart tissues of autologous skeletal myoblasts has been associated with improved contractile function in animal models and in humans with acute myocardial ischemia. Since heart infarction is most prevalent in individuals of over 40 years of age, we tested whether culture methods available in our laboratory were adequate to obtain sufficient numbers of differentiated skeletal myoblasts from muscle biopsy specimens obtained from patients aged 41 to 91.

Methods and results

No matter of donor age, differentiated skeletal muscle cells could be produced in vitro in amounts adequate for cellular therapy (≥300 millions). Using desmin as a cytoplasmic marker, about 50% cultured cells were differentiated along myogenic lineages and expressed proteins proper of skeletal muscle (myosin type I and II, actin, actinin, spectrin and dystrophin). Cytogenetic alterations were not detected in cultured muscle cells that had undergone at least 10 population doublings. Molecular methods employed for the screening of persistent viral infections evidenced that HCV failed to replicate in muscle cells cultured from one patient with chronic HCV infection.


The proposed culture methods appear to hold promise for aged patients not only in the field of cardiovascular medicine, but also in the urologic and orthopedic fields.

Cellular therapy; Stem cells; Heart failure; Karyotype; Human viruses