JOURNAL ARTICLE

Androgen receptor in human skeletal muscle and cultured muscle satellite cells: up-regulation by androgen treatment

Indrani Sinha-Hikim, Wayne E Taylor, Nestor F Gonzalez-Cadavid, Wei Zheng, Shalender Bhasin
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2004, 89 (10): 5245-55
15472231
Androgens stimulate myogenesis, but we do not know what cell types within human skeletal muscle express the androgen receptor (AR) protein and are the target of androgen action. Because testosterone promotes the commitment of pluripotent, mesenchymal cells into myogenic lineage, we hypothesized that AR would be expressed in mesenchymal precursor cells in the skeletal muscle. AR expression was evaluated by immunohistochemical staining, confocal immunofluorescence, and immunoelectron microscopy in sections of vastus lateralis from healthy men before and after treatment with a supraphysiological dose of testosterone enanthate. Satellite cell cultures from human skeletal muscle were also tested for AR expression. AR protein was expressed predominantly in satellite cells, identified by their location outside sarcolemma and inside basal lamina, and by CD34 and C-met staining. Many myonuclei in muscle fibers also demonstrated AR immunostaining. Additionally, CD34+ stem cells in the interstitium, fibroblasts, and mast cells expressed AR immunoreactivity. AR expression was also observed in vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed aggregation of immunogold particles in nucleoli of satellite cells and myonuclei; testosterone treatment increased nucleolar AR density. In enriched cultures of human satellite cells, more than 95% of cells stained for CD34 and C-met, confirming their identity as satellite cells, and expressed AR protein. AR mRNA and protein expression in satellite cell cultures was confirmed by RT-PCR, reverse transcription and real-time PCR, sequencing of RT-PCR product, and Western blot analysis. Incubation of satellite cell cultures with supraphysiological testosterone and dihydrotestosterone concentrations (100 nm testosterone and 30 nm dihydrotestosterone) modestly increased AR protein levels. We conclude that AR is expressed in several cell types in human skeletal muscle, including satellite cells, fibroblasts, CD34+ precursor cells, vascular endothelial, smooth muscle cells, and mast cells. Satellite cells are the predominant site of AR expression. These observations support the hypothesis that androgens increase muscle mass in part by acting on several cell types to regulate the differentiation of mesenchymal precursor cells in the skeletal muscle.

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