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Stem Cell Res. 2013 Nov;11(3):1060-73. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2013.07.005. Epub 2013 Jul 27.

Intra-subject variability in human bone marrow stromal cell (BMSC) replicative senescence: molecular changes associated with BMSC senescence.

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Department of Transfusion Medicine, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, 10 Center Dr., Bethesda, MD 20892, USA. Electronic address:


The outcomes of clinical trials using bone marrow stromal cell (BMSC) are variable; the degree of the expansion of BMSCs during clinical manufacturing may contribute to this variability since cell expansion is limited by senescence. Human BMSCs from aspirates of healthy subjects were subcultured serially until cell growth stopped. Phenotype and functional measurements of BMSCs from two subjects including senescence-associated beta-galactosidase staining and colony formation efficiency changed from an early to a senescence pattern at passage 6 or 7. Transcriptome analysis of 10 early and 15 late passage BMSC samples from 5 subjects revealed 2122 differentially expressed genes, which were associated with immune response, development, and cell proliferation pathways. Analysis of 57 serial BMSC samples from 7 donors revealed that the change from an early to senescent profile was variable among subjects and occurred prior to changes in phenotypes. BMSC age expressed as a percentage of maximum population doublings (PDs) was a good indicator for an early or senescence transcription signature but this measure of BMSC life span can only be calculated after expanding BMSCs to senescence. In order to find a more useful surrogate measure of BMSC age, we used a computational biology approach to identify a set of genes whose expression at each passage would predict elapsed age of BMSCs. A total of 155 genes were highly correlated with BMSC age. A least angle regression algorithm identified a set of 24 BMSC age-predictive genes. In conclusion, the onset of senescence-associated molecular changes was variable and preceded changes in other indicators of BMSC quality and senescence. The 24 BMSC age predictive genes will be useful in assessing the quality of clinical BMSC products.

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