Skeletal muscle has remarkable regenerative capacity using a coordinated effort from both myogenic and immune cells to restore form and function. Factors that help orchestrate immune cell flux and/or phenotype during the regenerative period are still unclear and could help our understanding of the complexities of the muscle repair process. DMPI faculty members Jim White and Gurpreet Baht have identified such a factor. In a recent publication in Nature Metabolism, Baht et al describes the protein, Meteorin-like, to play a major role in muscle regeneration. Meteorin-like helps recruit and transition immune cells from the pro-inflammatory state to a pro-regenerative state, which then helps the muscle heal. They go on to show without this protein, muscle regeneration is largely compromised. Although this protein was discovered in the mouse, Meteorin-like expression is increased in injured human muscle as well. Baht et al report an increase in Meteorin-like expression in muscle after an acute bout of unaccustomed resistance training, known to cause muscle damage.
The work by Drs. Baht and White is a highly collaborative project, incorporating several cores of the DMPI into this publication including Duke’s Molecular Genomics Core, led by Dr. Gregory and the Molecular Measures Core, led by Virginia Kraus and Janet Huebner. Together this discovery could led to a therapeutic to enhance skeletal muscle regeneration in the elderly or disease populations including Duchene’s Muscle Dystrophy.