Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are surely the “workhorses” of both the body and the regenerative medicine field. They display multiple advantageous characteristics, including the ability to differentiate into musculoskeletal tissues, that make MSCs the go-to cell type for tissue-engineering solutions for disease/age-related disorders. Furthermore, many tissues require the proper on-going function of tissue-resident MSCs to remain functional and healthy.
But however powerful a workhorse is, the passage of time will always take its unfortunate and damaging toll. But does the same happen in aging MSCs? What mediates any age-related loss in “power”? And can we identify new targets to reverse any lost functionality?
These important questions led researchers (both young and old) from the lab of Mandy J. Peffers and Peter D. Clegg (University of Liverpool, UK) to carry out a proteomic analysis of tissues generated from young and old MSCs in the hope of creating enhanced musculoskeletal therapies.
The study generated cartilage, bone, and tendon tissues from human bone marrow MSCs collected from multiple young (early 20s) and old (late 60s) human donors. Then, employing a novel approach, the authors applied a specific and sensitive liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS) proteomic analysis to identify proteins expressed differently between the young and old MSC-derived tissues.
So what did this new study uncover?
- Compared to tissues generated from young MSCs, cartilage (128 proteins), tendon (207 proteins) and bone (4 proteins) generated from aging MSCs expressed altered levels of many proteins
- Bioinformatic analysis established that common age-related changes involved proteins associated with cell survival/cell death, cytoskeletal factors, and inflammation/oxidative stress
- Specific changes included proteins related to:
- Energy and protein metabolism alterations in tendon tissue
- Lipid metabolism alterations in cartilage tissue
- Mitochondrial dysfunction in bone tissue
The authors hope that the identification of inflammation, oxidative stress, and cytoskeletal factors as common age-related alterations through proteomic analysis will add to the ever-growing knowledge base on aging MSCs and assist in the construction of enhanced musculoskeletal therapies.
To read all the fine details before the passage of time gets the better of your ocular tissues, head on over to Stem Cell Research & Therapy, September 2016.