Liang G. Guang, Adele L. Boskey, Wei Zhu
Cysteine (C)-X-C chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4) is the primary transmembrane receptor for stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1). We previously reported in mouse or human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal stem cells (BMSCs) that deleting or antagonizing CXCR4 inhibits bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP2)-induced osteogenic differentiation. The goal of this study was to determine whether CXCR4-deficiency in BMSCs is an age-related effect in association with impaired osteogenic differentiation potency of aged BMSCs. Using BMSCs derived from C57BL/6J wild type mice at ages ranging from 3 to 23 months old, we detected decreased CXCR4 mRNA and protein expression as well as SDF-1 secretion with advancing aging. Moreover, CXCR4-deficient BMSCs from elderly vs. young mice exhibited impaired osteogenic differentiation in response to BMP2 stimulation or when cultured in dexamethasone (Dex)-containing osteogenic medium, evidenced by decreased alkaline phosphatase activity, osteocalcin synthesis, and calcium deposition (markers for immature and mature osteoblasts). Mechanistically, impaired BMP2- or Dex-osteoinduction in BMSCs of elderly mice was mediated by inhibited phosphorylation of intracellular R-Smads and Erk1/2 or Erk1/2 and p38 proteins, and decreased Runx2 and Osx expression (osteogenesis “master” regulators) were also detected. Furthermore, adenovirus-mediated repair of CXCR4 expression in BMSCs of elderly mice restored their osteogenic differentiation potentials to both BMP2 treatment and osteogenic medium. Collectively, our results demonstrate for the first time that CXCR4 expression in mouse BMSCs declines with aging, and this CXCR4-deficiency impairs osteogenic differentiation potency of aged BMSCs. These findings provide novel insights into mechanisms underlying age-related changes in BMSC-osteogenesis, and will potentiate CXCR4 as a therapeutic target to improve BMSC-based bone repair and regeneration in broad orthopedic situations.