Study: Lowering Oxygen Helps Stem Cells Survive in Duchenne Treatment

Muscle implanted with stem cells

An image of a muscle implanted shows preexisting muscle fibers (green cells only) and fibers created by transplanted stem cells (green fiber with red membrane). Blue areas represent cells' nuclei. Photo courtesy of Purdue University image/Weiyi Liu and Shihuan Kuang

Scientists at Purdue University have discovered that controlling the amount of oxygen that stem cells are exposed to increases the effectiveness of stem cell treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.Typically, many of the implanted stem cells do not survive the procedure.

Researchers Shihuan Kuang and Weiyi Liu found that the survival of muscle stem cells could be increased by as much as fivefold in a mouse model if the cells are cultured under oxygen levels similar to those found in human muscles.

"Stem cells survive in a microenvironment in the body that has a low oxygen level," Kuang said. "But when we culture cells, there is a lot of oxygen around the petri dish. We wanted to see if less oxygen could mimic that microenvironment. When we did that, we saw that more stem cells survived the transplant."

The study is published in the journal Development.