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Non-myogenic mesenchymal cells contribute to muscle degeneration in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy patients

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Giorgio TascaORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022, The Author(s). Muscle-resident non-myogenic mesenchymal cells play key roles that drive successful tissue regeneration within the skeletal muscle stem cell niche. These cells have recently emerged as remarkable therapeutic targets for neuromuscular disorders, although to date they have been poorly investigated in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). In this study, we characterised the non-myogenic mesenchymal stromal cell population in FSHD patients’ muscles with signs of disease activity, identified by muscle magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and compared them with those obtained from apparently normal muscles of FSHD patients and from muscles of healthy, age-matched controls. Our results showed that patient-derived cells displayed a distinctive expression pattern of mesenchymal markers, along with an impaired capacity to differentiate towards mature adipocytes in vitro, compared with control cells. We also demonstrated a significant expansion of non-myogenic mesenchymal cells (identified as CD201- or PDGFRA-expressing cells) in FSHD muscles with signs of disease activity, which correlated with the extent of intramuscular fibrosis. In addition, the accumulation of non-myogenic mesenchymal cells was higher in FSHD muscles that deteriorate more rapidly. Our results prompt a direct association between an accumulation, as well as an altered differentiation, of non-myogenic mesenchymal cells with muscle degeneration in FSHD patients. Elucidating the mechanisms and cellular interactions that are altered in the affected muscles of FSHD patients could be instrumental to clarify disease pathogenesis and identifying reliable novel therapeutic targets.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Di Pietro L, Giacalone F, Ragozzino E, Saccone V, Tiberio F, De Bardi M, Picozza M, Borsellino G, Lattanzi W, Guadagni E, Bortolani S, Tasca G, Ricci E, Parolini O

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cell Death and Disease

Year: 2022

Volume: 13

Issue: 9

Online publication date: 16/09/2022

Acceptance date: 05/09/2022

Date deposited: 22/02/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2041-4889

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1038/s41419-022-05233-6

PubMed id: 36114172


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