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Blood. 2005 Aug 15;106(4):1479-87. Epub 2005 Apr 12.

Effects of aging on the homing and engraftment of murine hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.


To test the hypothesis that aging has negative effects on stem-cell homing and engraftment, young or old C57BL/6 bone marrow (BM) cells were injected, using a limiting-dilution, competitive transplantation method, into old or young Ly5 congenic mice. Numbers of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progenitor cells (HPCs) recovered from BM or spleen were measured and compared with the numbers initially transplanted. Although the frequency of marrow competitive repopulation units (CRUs) increased approximately 2-fold from 2 months to 2 years of age, the BM homing efficiency of old CRUs was approximately 3-fold lower than that of young CRUs. Surprisingly, the overall size of individual stem-cell clones generated in recipients receiving a single CRU was not affected by donor age. However, the increased ages of HSC donors and HSC transplant recipients caused marked skewing of the pattern of engraftment toward the myeloid lineage, indicating that HSC-intrinsic and HSC-extrinsic (microenvironmental) age-related changes favor myelopoiesis. This correlated with changes after transplantation in the rate of recovery of circulating leukocytes, erythrocytes, and platelets. Recovery of the latter was especially blunted in aged recipients. Collectively, these findings may have implications for clinical HSC transplantation in which older persons increasingly serve as donors for elderly patients.

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