Research highlight

Stem cells: Bolstering bone density

Scientific Reports

August 19, 2011

Transplanting mesenchymal stem cells from young mice can slow the loss of bone density in ageing mice, reports a study published online in Scientific Reports.

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deteriorating bone structure, leading to an increased risk of fractures. Previous research has suggested that the loss of functional stem cells may be important to the ageing process but the link between ageing and osteoporosis is not fully understood.

Liping Tang and colleagues transplanted bone mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) from aged or young mouse donors into aged female mice. They found that transplanting cells from young animals restored bone microstructure and density in aged mice, whereas BMSCs from old donors had no such effect. This suggests that young BMSCs can differentiate into a variety of cells, including osteoblasts, whereas old BMSCs may somehow lose this capacity.

Furthermore, recipients of BMSCs from young animals had significantly increased life spans, although it remains unclear how administering BMSCs from young donors leads to increased longevity. The authors speculate that the transplanted young BMSCs may enhance cell or tissue regeneration, thereby slowing down the ageing process.

doi: 10.1038/srep00067

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