Somatic stem cell populations participate in the development and regeneration of their host tissues. Skeletal muscle is capable of complete regeneration due to stem cells that reside in skeletal muscle and nonmuscle stem cell populations. However, in severe myopathic diseases such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, this regenerative capacity is exhausted. In the present review, studies will be examined that focus on the origin, gene expression, and coordinated regulation of stem cell populations to highlight the regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle and emphasize the challenges for this field. Intense interest has focused on cell-based therapies for chronic, debilitating myopathic diseases. Future studies that enhance our understanding of stem cell biology and repair mechanisms will provide a platform for therapeutic applications directed toward these chronic, life-threatening diseases.
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