Open Access Research article

Cell metabolism sets the differences between subpopulations of satellite cells (SCs)

Andrea Repele123, Ramona Lupi5, Simon Eaton2, Luca Urbani12, Paolo De Coppi12 and Michelangelo Campanella345*

Author affiliations

1 Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Lab, Department of Woman and Child Health, University of Padua, Padua, Italy

2 Institute of Child Health & Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, UK

3 Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, the Royal Veterinary College, University College London; University of London, Royal College Street, London NW1 0TU, UK

4 Consortium for Mitochondrial Research (CfMR), University College London; University of London, Royal College Street, London NW1 0TU, UK

5 European Brain Research Institute, Rita Levi-Montalcini Foundation, 00140, Rome, Italy

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Citation and License

BMC Cell Biology 2013, 14:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-14-24

Published: 3 May 2013



We have recently characterized two distinct populations of Satellite Cells (SCs) that differ in proliferation, regenerative potential, and mitochondrial coupling efficiency and classified these in Low Proliferative Clones (LPC) and High Proliferative Clones (HPC). Herewith, we have investigated their cell metabolism and individuated features that remark an intrinsic difference in basal physiology but that are retrievable also at the initial phases of their cloning.


Indeed, LPC and HPC can be distinguished for mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) just after isolation from the fiber. This is matched by mitochondrial redox state measured via NAD+/NADH analysis and alternative respiratory CO2 production in cloned cells. All these parameters are accountable for metabolic differences reflected indeed by alternative expression of the glycolytic enzyme 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3 (Pfkfb3). Also Ca2+ handling by mitochondria is different together with the sensitivity to apoptosis triggered via this pathway. Finally, according to the above, we were able to determine which one among the clones represents the suitable stem cell.


These experimental observations report novel physiological features in the cell biology of SCs and refer to an intrinsic heterogeneity within which their stemness may reside.

Satellite cells; Clones; Metabolism; CO2 production; Apoptosis