PloS one

Myospheres are composed of two cell types: one that is myogenic and a second that is mesenchymal.

PMID 25706128


Previously, in an attempt to isolate stem cells that would be capable of regenerating injured skeletal muscle, we cultured cells derived from muscle, non-adherently, in serum-free media. As a result of the culture conditions used, these cells formed spheres, and thus were referred to as myospheres. It was found that myosphere-derived cells expressed Sca-1, a marker that is not typically associated with myogenic cells, and as a result has generated some questions as to the origin of these cells. The goal of this study was to clearly determine the origin of myosphere-derived cells, and in particular to answer the question of whether myospheres contain myogenic cells. To determine if myospheres were composed of myogenic cells without altering the structure of myospheres or the culture conditions used to maintain myospheres, I isolated these cells from yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-Myf5, YFP-MyoD, and ZsGreen-Pax7 lineage-tracing mice and monitored their growth over time. I found that myospheres do contain myogenic cells, but that these cells are gradually lost over time (within 2 months). Additionally, the use of the lineage-tracing mice gave an interesting perspective into the composition of myospheres. I found that myospheres were composed of two distinct cell types, one that is myogenic (α7 integrin+) and contains cells expressing Myf5, MyoD, and Pax7, and a second that is non-myogenic (α7 integrin-) expressing platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRα) and Sca-1, both of which have been associated with fibro/adipocyte mesenchymal cells.