Are cultured human myotubes far from home?
Cell and Tissue Research
Satellite cells can be isolated from skeletal muscle biopsies, activated to proliferating myoblasts and differentiated into multinuclear myotubes in culture. These cell cultures represent a model system for intact human skeletal muscle and can be modulated ex vivo. The advantages of this system are that the most relevant genetic background is available for the investigation of human disease (as opposed to rodent cell cultures), the extracellular environment can be precisely controlled and the cells are not immortalized, thereby offering the possibility of studying innate characteristics of the donor. Limitations in differentiation status (fiber type) of the cells and energy metabolism can be improved by proper treatment, such as electrical pulse stimulation to mimic exercise. This review focuses on the way that human myotubes can be employed as a tool for studying metabolism in skeletal muscles, with special attention to changes in muscle energy metabolism in obesity and type 2 diabetes. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.