Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

Muscle stem cells and fibro-adipogenic progenitors in female pelvic floor muscle regeneration following birth injury


Pelvic floor muscle (PFM) injury during childbirth is a key risk factor for pelvic floor disorders that affect millions of women worldwide. Muscle stem cells (MuSCs), supported by the fibro-adipogenic progenitors (FAPs) and immune cells, are indispensable for the regeneration of injured appendicular skeletal muscles. However, almost nothing is known about their role in PFM regeneration following birth injury. To elucidate the role of MuSCs, FAPs, and immune infiltrate in this context, we used radiation to perturb cell function and followed PFM recovery in a validated simulated birth injury (SBI) rat model. Non-irradiated and irradiated rats were euthanized at 3,7,10, and 28 days post-SBI (dpi). Twenty-eight dpi, PFM fiber cross-sectional area (CSA) was significantly lower and the extracellular space occupied by immune infiltrate was larger in irradiated relative to nonirradiated injured animals. Following SBI in non-irradiated animals, MuSCs and FAPs expanded significantly at 7 and 3 dpi, respectively; this expansion did not occur in irradiated animals at the same time points. At 7 and 10 dpi, we observed persistent immune response in PFMs subjected to irradiation compared to non-irradiated injured PFMs. CSA of newly regenerated fibers was also significantly smaller following SBI in irradiated compared to non-irradiated injured PFMs. Our results demonstrate that the loss of function and decreased expansion of MuSCs and FAPs after birth injury lead to impaired PFM recovery. These findings form the basis for further studies focused on the identification of novel therapeutic targets to counteract postpartum PFM dysfunction and the associated pelvic floor disorders.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View