Purdue awarded $2.5M for stem cell research
A team of Purdue University scientists has received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine the role of lipid droplets in muscle stem cell function for both people and livestock. Their results could provide insight to recovery in muscle-related disease and injury in humans, and animal growth to enhance meat production.
The researchers said people often think of lipids as bad because they accumulate within the body as fat tissue. However, Purdue says the NIH project will explore the potential positive role that lipids may play as important signaling molecules in muscle.
“Lipid droplets are important as a regulatory component of the stem cell. The content of lipid droplets makes the stem cell function better or worse,” said Shihuan Kuang, a professor of animal sciences in Purdue’s College of Agriculture.
Kuang says scientists often viewed lipid droplets as inert storage containers, “like a garbage can.” But by learning how the droplets influence stem cells, it could lead to their manipulation to repair muscle damage more rapidly or to heal muscle disease.
In terms of the animal science perspective, Purdue Assistant Professor of Animal Sciences James Markworth said the lipid droplets are found in the muscle of livestock.
“The composition of lipid droplets in the meat may affect both the taste of the meat and its nutritional value to the human diet. If we can manipulate lipid in the muscle, we could potentially enhance meat quality,” said Markworth.
The researchers say their findings could help with the study of muscle atrophy and metabolic diseases. It might also provide insight to major genetic muscle diseases, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy.