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Cell Cycle. 2005 Mar;4(3):407-10. Epub 2005 Mar 7.

Aging, stem cells and tissue regeneration: lessons from muscle.

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Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5235, USA.


With age, there is a gradual decline in the regenerative properties of most tissues due to a combination of age-dependent changes in tissue-specific stem cells and in the environmental cues that promote those cells to participate in tissue maintenance and repair. In adult skeletal muscle, where the resident dedicated stem cells ("satellite cells") are capable of rapid and highly effective regeneration in response to injury, there is just such a loss of regenerative potential with age. Satellite cell activation and cell fate determination are controlled by the Notch signaling pathway that is initiated by the rapid increase in expression of the Notch ligand, Delta, following injury. In old muscle, this upregulation of Delta is blunted and thus satellite cell activation is markedly diminished. However, by indirectly inducing Notch activity, the regenerative potential of aged satellite cells can be restored. Furthermore, exposure of aged satellite cells to serum from young mice, either in vivo by heterochronic parabiotic pairings or in vitro, rejuvenates the satellite cell response. This restorative potential suggests that tissue-specific stem cells do not lose their ability to participate in tissue maintenance and repair. Therefore, it may be that even very old stem cells may be capable of maintaining and repairing aged tissues if provided with optimal environmental cues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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