Muscles put in a lot of work during daily life, suffering from wear and tear that is continually repaired to keep things functioning. A type of stem cells called skeletal muscle satellite cells play a key role in repairing muscle fibers when they’re damaged by exercise or general activity. Sugar, according to a new study, may negatively impact these cells.
The new study comes from Tokyo Metropolitan University where researchers studied how these stem cells grow outside of the body — namely, in petri dishes. This led to a surprise discovery, with the researchers noting that greater amounts of glucose in the growth medium reduce the cells’ growth rate.
When the amount of glucose in the growth medium was reduced, a larger number of stem cells were produced. Though this doesn’t apply to all of the cells in the body, the study notes, the stem cells were found to grow ‘just fine’ when exposed to a glucose-depleted growth medium.
The findings indicate that these key stem cells involved in muscle repair may get their energy from a source other than glucose, though additional research is needed to uncover what that source may be. The researchers likewise note that the results may hint at why people who have diabetes may experience muscle loss.
The findings may help pave the way for a better understanding of the impact diet — particularly sugar-heavy diets — may have on muscle repair and maintaining muscle mass as we age. Additional research is necessary to better understand this process, however, including the fuel source that drives these stem cells.