Primary cultures of skeletal muscle satellite cells, the postnatal myogenic precursor cells, were induced to proliferate by exposure to physiological levels of somatomedins (Sms)/insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) and pharmacological levels of insulin. These polypeptides were included in medium containing horse serum as well as serum-free defined medium. Dexamethasone inclusion in the serum-containing medium facilitated the ovine Sm (oSm; P < 0.05) and the multiplication-stimulating activity/rat IGF-II (MSA/rIGF-II; P < 0.25) responses, but not the insulin proliferative response. In addition, data from defined medium studies indicate that satellite cells are more sensitive to both IGF moieties than insulin and that the proliferations induced by half-maximal concentrations of oSm and insulin were similar (P < 0.05), but both were different from the proliferation induced by MSA/rIGF-II (P < 0.05). In the presence of insulin concentrations that promote maximum proliferation, the addition of oSm did not produce an additive effect, whereas the addition of MSA/rIGF-II did produce a significant increase in satellite cell proliferation above that induced by insulin. MSA/rIGF-II may, therefore, be stimulating proliferation of satellite cells through a receptor system different from that serving insulin and oSm. Collectively, these data support the hypothesis that Sms/IGFs play an important role in the control of postnatal muscle growth by providing a link between these hormones and one of the significant target cells involved in this process.
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