Researchers recently discovered stem cells may have therapeutic potential for patients with severe burns.
The study, conducted by investigators at The University of Texas Medical Branch, showed that while severe burn injury causes cell death in muscles, it also induces the muscle regeneration properties of satellite cells, the stem cells that reside in skeletal muscle cells. Satellite cells maintain and regenerate skeletal muscle after injury occurs, according to a press release from The Physiological Society.
Researchers collected tissue samples from 12 patients with severe burn injuries and from 12 healthy people. The investigators analyzed and compared satellite cell content, activation and cell death, as well as regeneration of muscle fibers in the tissue samples using immunohistochemical techniques. They found cells received a mixed signal in burn patients. The signal induced cell death and also induced muscle regeneration.
“We found a high amount of the marker protein Ki67, which indicates that the burn injury activates satellite cells and thus stimulates skeletal muscle regeneration,” Christopher S. Fry, PhD, first author of the study and assistant professor at University of Texas Medical Branch, said in the release.
Celeste C. Finnerty, PhD, lead investigator of the study and associate professor at University of Texas Medical Branch, said in the release, “Our results highlight the therapeutic potential of satellite cells to aid regeneration and preservation of muscle mass following a severe burn injury. Further studies can now investigate therapies that can prevent satellite cells from cell death and promote their activity to regenerate skeletal cells, improving the recovery of severe burn patients.”
The next step in the research is to determine how the cells respond to burn injuries, Finnerty said.
Fry CS, et al. J Physiol. 2016;doi:10.1113/JP272520.