Conboy IM, Conboy MJ, Wagers AJ, Girma ER, Weissman IL, Rando TA. 2005. Rejuvenation of aged progenitor cells by exposure to a young systemic environment. Nature. 433(7027):760-4. Pubmed: 15716955


The decline of tissue regenerative potential is a hallmark of ageing and may be due to age-related changes in tissue-specific stem cells. A decline in skeletal muscle stem cell (satellite cell) activity due to a loss of Notch signalling results in impaired regeneration of aged muscle. The decline in hepatic progenitor cell proliferation owing to the formation of a complex involving cEBP-alpha and the chromatin remodelling factor brahma (Brm) inhibits the regenerative capacity of aged liver. To examine the influence of systemic factors on aged progenitor cells from these tissues, we established parabiotic pairings (that is, a shared circulatory system) between young and old mice (heterochronic parabioses), exposing old mice to factors present in young serum. Notably, heterochronic parabiosis restored the activation of Notch signalling as well as the proliferation and regenerative capacity of aged satellite cells. The exposure of satellite cells from old mice to young serum enhanced the expression of the Notch ligand (Delta), increased Notch activation, and enhanced proliferation in vitro. Furthermore, heterochronic parabiosis increased aged hepatocyte proliferation and restored the cEBP-alpha complex to levels seen in young animals. These results suggest that the age-related decline of progenitor cell activity can be modulated by systemic factors that change with age.

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Amy Wagers seeks to change the way we repair our tissues after an injury. Her research focuses on defining the factors and mechanisms that regulate the migration, expansion, and regenerative potential of adult blood-forming and muscle-forming stem cells.

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