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A recent publication from Dr. Julie Saba et al., (Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California, reference http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0037218) highlights the role played by the signaling lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) in controlling the fate of satellite cells (muscle stem cells) in mdx mice. The study demonstrates for the first time that mdx mice exist in an S1P deficient state by virtue of elevated levels of the catabolic enzyme sphingosine-1-phosphate lyase (S1PL). Therapeutic intervention with a small molecule S1PL inhibitor increased S1P levels and improved muscle regeneration in mdx mice after injury.
Further studies are needed to understand the significance of S1PL and S1P signaling in human muscle regeneration, but these preliminary findings suggest a feasible therapeutic strategy for enhancing satellite cell function.