The muscles work hard during daily life, suffering from the wear and tear that is continually repaired to keep things running. A type of stem cells called skeletal muscle satellite cells play a key role in repairing muscle fibers when they are damaged by exercise or general activity. Sugar, according to a new study, can negatively impact these cells.
The new study comes from Tokyo Metropolitan University, where researchers studied how these stem cells grow outside the body – that is, in Petri dishes. This led to a surprise discovery, with the researchers noting that increased amounts of glucose in the growth medium reduce the rate of cell growth.
When the amount of glucose in the growth medium was reduced, more stem cells were produced. While this does not apply to every cell in the body, the study notes, stem cells grew “very well” when exposed to a low-glucose growth medium.
The findings indicate that these stem cells involved in muscle repair may derive their energy from a source other than glucose, although further research is needed to find out what that source might be. The researchers also note that the results may suggest why people who have diabetes may experience muscle loss.
The findings may help pave the way for a better understanding of the impact that diet – particularly high-sugar diets – can have on muscle repair and maintenance of muscle mass as we age. Further research is needed to better understand this process, however, including the fuel source that drives these stem cells.