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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Age-related changes in rat bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cell plasticity

Faizal Z Asumda1 and P Bryant Chase12*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Molecular Biophysics, Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA

2 Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2011, 12:44  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-12-44

Published: 12 October 2011

Abstract

Background

The efficacy of adult stem cells is known to be compromised as a function of age. This therefore raises questions about the effectiveness of autologous cell therapy in elderly patients.

Results

We demonstrated that the expression profile of stemness markers was altered in BM-MSCs derived from old rats. BM-MSCs from young rats (4 months) expressed Oct-4, Sox-2 and NANOG, but we failed to detect Sox-2 and NANOG in BM-MSCs from older animals (15 months). Chondrogenic, osteogenic and adipogenic potential is compromised in old BM-MSCs. Stimulation with a cocktail mixture of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP-2), fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) induced cardiomyogenesis in young BM-MSCs but not old BM-MSCs. Significant differences in the expression of gap junction protein connexin-43 were observed between young and old BM-MSCs. Young and old BM-MSCs fused with neonatal ventricular cardiomyocytes in co-culture and expressed key cardiac transcription factors and structural proteins. Cells from old animals expressed significantly lower levels of VEGF, IGF, EGF, and G-CSF. Significantly higher levels of DNA double strand break marker γ-H2AX and diminished levels of telomerase activity were observed in old BM-MSCs.

Conclusion

The results suggest age related differences in the differentiation capacity of BM-MSCs. These changes may affect the efficacy of BM-MSCs for use in stem cell therapy.