Muscle progenitor cells are critical for restoration of muscle function subsequent to an injury.  However, the number and capacity of muscle progenitor cells to be activated when needed can be negatively affected by reduced proliferative capacity, and oxidative stress.  Early cell culture and animal-based work suggests that it may be possible to improve proliferation of this cell type through the administration of diet-derived antioxidant factors.  Blum and colleagues have extended those observations by using samples derived from humans.  Results of their study are found in the September 2020 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

The study used cultures of young and old human muscle progenitor cells.  The cells were treated with serum derived from younger and older women.  The women consumed freeze-dried blueberries (38 g) daily for 6 weeks.  Fasting serum was collected at 0, 4 and 6 weeks, and a serum sample was collected 1.5 hours after consuming the supplement.  The cells were cultured in serum that was pooled based on age group of the women involved and study time point.  Cell number, oxidative stress resistance, and metabolic pathway activity were determined.

Administration of the serum collected 1.5 hours after consumption of the supplement only increased oxygen consumption in the young cells.  Cell number increased, and a minor improvement in resistance to oxidative stress and a modest increase in oxygen consumption occurred in young cells administered serum obtained at 6 weeks.  There was no improvement in any variable measured for the old cells.  These observations led the authors to conclude that dietary interventions like the freeze dried blueberries used in this study, may help improve human muscle cell progenitor cell number and function in younger women.

References Blum JE, Gheller BJ, Hwang S, Bender E, Gheller M, Thalacker-Mercer AE.  Consumption of a blueberry-enriched diet by women for 6 weeks alters determinants of human muscle progenitor cell function.  Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 9, 1 September 2020, Pages 2412–2418,

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