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Stem Cells. 2015 Mar;33(3):939-50. doi: 10.1002/stem.1897.

Mesenchymal progenitors aging highlights a miR-196 switch targeting HOXB7 as master regulator of proliferation and osteogenesis.

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Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences for Children & Adults, University-Hospital of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.


Human aging is associated with a decrease in tissue functions combined with a decline in stem cells frequency and activity followed by a loss of regenerative capacity. The molecular mechanisms behind this senescence remain largely obscure, precluding targeted approaches to counteract aging. Focusing on mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSC) as known adult progenitors, we identified a specific switch in miRNA expression during aging, revealing a miR-196a upregulation which was inversely correlated with MSC proliferation through HOXB7 targeting. A forced HOXB7 expression was associated with an improved cell growth, a reduction of senescence, and an improved osteogenesis linked to a dramatic increase of autocrine basic fibroblast growth factor secretion. These findings, along with the progressive decrease of HOXB7 levels observed during skeletal aging in mice, indicate HOXB7 as a master factor driving progenitors behavior lifetime, providing a better understanding of bone senescence and leading to an optimization of MSC performance.


Aging; Bone; Bone marrow stromal cells; Homeobox genes

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