Massage increases satellite cell number independent of the age-associated alterations in sarcolemma permeability

Emily R. Hunt, Amy L. Confides, Sarah M. Abshire, Esther E. Dupont-Versteegden, Timothy A. Butterfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Massage is a widely accepted manual therapy used to modulate the inflammatory response of muscle and restore function, but prolonged compression of muscle potentially causes overt injury and damage to muscle fibers. Therefore, a balance exists between the positive effects of massage and the induction of mechanical damage and injury. In addition, skeletal muscle of aged individuals displays increased stiffness, and therefore, the response to massage is likely different compared with young. We hypothesized that the aged skeletal muscle exhibits increased sarcolemmal permeability when subjected to massage compared with young skeletal muscle. Male Brown Norway/F344 rats, 10 and 30 months of age, were each divided into control, non-massaged (n = 8) and massaged (n = 8) groups. The right gastrocnemius muscle received one bout of cyclic compressive loading for 30 min at 4.5 N as a massage-mimetic. Muscles were dissected and frozen 24 h after massage. Alterations in sarcolemma permeability were quantified by measuring the level of intracellular IgG within the muscle fibers. Immunohistochemistry was performed to determine IgG inside fibers and Pax7+ cell number as an indicator of stem cell abundance. Average IgG intensity was not different between control and massaged animals at either age. However, a significant shift to the right of the density histogram indicated that massaged animals had more fibers with higher IgG intensity than control at 10 months. In addition, Pax7+ cell number was significantly elevated in massaged muscles compared with control at both ages. One bout of massage did not induce overt muscle injury, but facilitated membrane permeability, which was associated with an increase in satellite cell number. Data suggest that the load applied here, which was previously shown to induce immunomodulatory changes, does not induce overt muscle injury in young and old muscles but may result in muscle remodeling. Funded by NIH grant AG042699 and AT009268.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14200
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors. Physiological Reports published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Physiological Society and the American Physiological Society.


  • IgG
  • Pax-7
  • permeability
  • sarcolemma
  • satellite cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Massage increases satellite cell number independent of the age-associated alterations in sarcolemma permeability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this