Improved muscle healing after contusion injury by the inhibitory effect of suramin on myostatin, a negative regulator of muscle growth

Masahiro Nozaki, Yong Li, Jinhong Zhu, Fabrisia Ambrosio, Kenji Uehara, Freddie H Fu, Johnny Huard
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2008, 36 (12): 2354-62

BACKGROUND: Muscle contusions are the most common muscle injuries in sports medicine. Although these injuries are capable of healing, incomplete functional recovery often occurs.

HYPOTHESIS: Suramin enhances muscle healing by both stimulating muscle regeneration and preventing fibrosis in contused skeletal muscle.

STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.

METHODS: In vitro: Myoblasts (C2C12 cells) and muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs) were cultured with suramin, and the potential of suramin to induce their differentiation was evaluated. Furthermore, MDSCs were cocultured with suramin and myostatin (MSTN) to monitor the capability of suramin to neutralize the effect of MSTN. In vivo: Varying concentrations of suramin were injected in the tibialis anterior muscle of mice 2 weeks after muscle contusion injury. Muscle regeneration and scar tissue formation were evaluated by histologic analysis and functional recovery was measured by physiologic testing

RESULTS: In vitro: Suramin stimulated the differentiation of myoblasts and MDSCs in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, suramin neutralized the inhibitory effect of MSTN on MDSC differentiation. In vivo: Suramin treatment significantly promoted muscle regeneration, decreased fibrosis formation, reduced myostatin expression in injured muscle, and increased muscle strength after contusion injury.

CONCLUSION: Intramuscular injection of suramin after a contusion injury improved overall skeletal muscle healing. Suramin enhanced myoblast and MDSC differentiation and neutralized MSTN's negative effect on myogenic differentiation in vitro, which suggests a possible mechanism for the beneficial effects that this pharmacologic agent exhibits in vivo.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: These findings could contribute to the development of biological treatments to aid in muscle healing after experiencing a muscle injury.

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