Dr. Xing Wang, Xuan Zou, Dr. Jing Zhao, Dr. Xia Wu, Dr. Lin Feng, Dr. Lingling E, Dongsheng Wang, Guilan Zhang, Dr. Helin Xing, and Dr. Hongchen Liu
Bone is a self-renewing tissue. Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMSCs) are located in the adult skeleton and are believed to be involved in the maintenance of skeletal homeostasis throughout life. With increasing age, the ability of the skeleton to repair itself decreases, possibly due to the reduced functional capacity of BMSCs. Recent evidence has suggested the existence of at least two populations of BMSCs with different embryonic origins that cannot be interchanged during stem cell recruitment: craniofacial BMSCs (neural crest origin) and appendicular BMSCs (mesoderm origin). Questions arise as to whether the site-specific characteristics alter the effect of aging on the skeleton. In this study, the effects of biological aging on human BMSCs were compared with BMSCs derived from craniofacial bone vs. BMSCs derived from the appendicular skeleton. The phenotype, proliferation and functional characteristics (osteogenic differentiation, cytokine secretion and bone formation in vivo) of the BMSCs were investigated. The results demonstrated that the proliferative capacity and osteogenic differentiation of the BMSCs decrease significantly with age both in vitro and in vivo. For age-matched groups, the osteogenic differentiation capacity of alveolar BMSCs was higher than that of femoral BMSCs in the middle-aged and old groups while there was no significant difference for the young groups. Compared with old alveolar BMSCs, old femoral BMSCs had a significantly longer population doubling time, a smaller colony-forming population and less bone formation in vivo while there was no significant difference for the young and middle-aged groups. Distinct differences in the expression of cytokine factors were also found. In conclusion, human BMSCs display an age-related decrease in functional capacity, and embryonic origins may play a critical role in mediating the aging rate of BMSCs. These data provide novel insights into the skeletal site-specific characteristics of aged BMSCs.