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Scientists reverse blood stem cell aging

BOSTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have reversed the aging of blood stem cells through the influence of bone-forming cells known as osteoblasts.

Principal Investigator Amy Wagers of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston said aging leads blood stem cells in bone marrow to produce an aberrant array of blood cell types that enhances vulnerability to disease. An earlier study at Joslin by postdoctoral fellow Shane Mayack revealed bone-forming cells known as osteoblasts have a critical role in the maintenance and regeneration of blood stem cells.

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Wagers said her team found blood factors from osteoblasts influence the aging of blood stem cells, making them less able to produce the right mixture of blood cells.

Wagers' team conducted tests in which two mice shared a common blood circulation. When old mice were paired with young mice, osteoblasts and existing stem cells of the older mice showed signs of rejuvenation, so that the older mice had blood-forming abilities more characteristic of younger mice.

"What's most exciting is that the changes that occur in blood stem cells during aging are reversible, through signals carried by the blood itself," Wagers said. "This means that the blood system offers a potential therapeutic avenue for age-related stem cell dysfunction."

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The study appeared in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Nature.

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