December 15, 2011

Young stem cells counter kidney aging

Young bone marrow cells alleviate aging-related kidney changes in mice.

Stem cells (iStock)

Aging kidneys accumulate “scar tissue” – areas of fibrosis that reduce the organ’s ability to filter blood and produce urine. Previous studies have suggested that bone marrow-derived stem cells may modulate this aging-related renal injury.

To explore whether these effects depend on the age of the stem cells, Agnes Fogo and colleagues compared the ability of young versus old bone marrow to attenuate renal aging in old mice. They transplanted bone marrow from young or old mice and examined markers of kidney fibrosis and cellular senescence – a status that renders cells more sensitive to injury and less likely to recover from stressors.

They report in the November Journal of the American Society of Nephrology that young (but not old) bone marrow cells reduced the expression of markers of fibrosis and senescence and increased expression of the anti-aging gene Klotho. The studies demonstrated that bone marrow-derived stem cells modulate kidney aging by directly reconstituting the kidney structure, influencing adjacent kidney cells and producing circulating anti-aging molecules.

This research was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.