Alessandra Sacco, Ph.D.

Alessandra Sacco's Research Focus

Childhood Diseases, Muscular Dystrophy, Sarcopenia/Aging-Related Muscle Atrophy

Skeletal muscle wasting is a devastating pathology that occurs in several human conditions, including muscular dystrophies, aging, and HIV. There is currently no cure for it. Muscle stem cells offer great promise for future therapies, but their use is currently limited by our poor understanding of the regulatory mechanisms directing their behavior. We are interested in understanding how extrinsic and intrinsic factors regulate muscle stem cells in vivo. Current projects include:

  • Developing stem cell-based strategies for treating muscle wasting diseases
  • Understanding how aging affects the muscle stem cell compartment.

Alessandra Sacco's Bio

Alessandra Sacco completed her studies at La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. In 2002, Dr. Sacco joined the laboratory of Prof. Helen M. Blau at Stanford University as a postdoctoral fellow (2002-2009), where she studied cell fusion between hematopoietic cells and muscle cells, as a potential mechanism for tissue repair. Recently she defined strategies to isolate adult skeletal muscle stem cells and performed single cell transplantation experiments, providing the first definitive evidence that adult muscle stem cells are able to self-renew in vivo. She received research funding from Muscular Dystrophy Association (2006-2008). In 2010, Dr. Sacco was recruited as Assistant Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys.

DAR Accessory


Substrate elasticity regulates skeletal muscle stem cell self-renewal in culture.

Gilbert PM, Havenstrite KL, Magnusson KE, Sacco A, Leonardi NA, Kraft P, Nguyen NK, Thrun S, Lutolf MP, Blau HM

Science 2010 Aug 27 ;329(5995):1078-81

Reprogramming towards pluripotency requires AID-dependent DNA demethylation.

Bhutani N, Brady JJ, Damian M, Sacco A, Corbel SY, Blau HM

Nature 2010 Feb 25 ;463(7284):1042-7

A home away from home: challenges and opportunities in engineering in vitro muscle satellite cell niches.

Cosgrove BD, Sacco A, Gilbert PM, Blau HM

Differentiation 2009 Sep-Oct ;78(2-3):185-94

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Author Correction: Denervation-activated STAT3-IL-6 signalling in fibro-adipogenic progenitors promotes myofibres atrophy and fibrosis.

Madaro L, Passafaro M, Sala D, Etxaniz U, Lugarini F, Proietti D, Alfonsi MV, Nicoletti C, Gatto S, De Bardi M, Rojas-García R, Giordani L, Marinelli S, Pagliarini V, Sette C, Sacco A, Puri PL

Nat Cell Biol 2024 Mar ;26(3):492

Conserved transcription factors promote cell fate stability and restrict reprogramming potential in differentiated cells.

Missinato MA, Murphy S, Lynott M, Yu MS, Kervadec A, Chang YL, Kannan S, Loreti M, Lee C, Amatya P, Tanaka H, Huang CT, Puri PL, Kwon C, Adams PD, Qian L, Sacco A, Andersen P, Colas AR

Nat Commun 2023 Mar 27 ;14(1):1709

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

Sesillo FB, Rajesh V, Wong M, Duran P, Rudell JB, Rundio CP, Baynes BB, Laurent LC, Sacco A, Christman KL, Alperin M

NPJ Regen Med 2022 Dec 16 ;7(1):72

Pannexin 1 Regulates Skeletal Muscle Regeneration by Promoting Bleb-Based Myoblast Migration and Fusion Through a Novel Lipid Based Signaling Mechanism.

Suarez-Berumen K, Collins-Hooper H, Gromova A, Meech R, Sacco A, Dash PR, Mitchell R, Shestopalov VI, Woolley TE, Vaiyapuri S, Patel K, Makarenkova HP

Front Cell Dev Biol 2021 ;9:736813

The San Diego Nathan Shock Center: tackling the heterogeneity of aging.

Shadel GS, Adams PD, Berggren WT, Diedrich JK, Diffenderfer KE, Gage FH, Hah N, Hansen M, Hetzer MW, Molina AJA, Manor U, Marek K, O'Keefe DD, Pinto AFM, Sacco A, Sharpee TO, Shokriev MN, Zambetti S

Geroscience 2021 Oct ;43(5):2139-2148

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