Abstract 1505

Poster Board I-528

Aging of the human hematopoietic system is associated with an increase in the development of anemia, myeloid malignancies, and decreased adaptive immune function. While the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) population in mouse has been shown to change both quantitatively as well as functionally with age, age-associated alterations in the human HSC and progenitor cell populations have not been characterized. In order to elucidate the properties of an aged human hematopoietic system that may predispose to age-associated hematopoietic dysfunction, we evaluated and compared HSC and other hematopoietic progenitor populations prospectively isolated via fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) from 10 healthy young (20-35 years of age) and 8 healthy elderly (65+ years of age) human bone marrow samples. Bone marrow was obtained from hematologically normal young and old volunteers, under a protocol approved by the Stanford Institutional Review Board. We determined by flow cytometry the distribution frequencies and cell cycle status of HSC and progenitor populations. We also analyzed the in vitro function and generated gene expression profiles of the sorted HSC and progenitor populations.

We found that bone marrow samples obtained from normal elderly adults contain ∼2-3 times the frequency of immunophenotypic HSC (Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+) compared to bone marrow obtained from normal young adults (p < 0.02). Furthermore, upon evaluation of cell cycle status using RNA (Pyronin-Y) and DNA (Hoechst 33342) dyes, we observed that a greater percentage of HSC from young bone marrow are in the quiescent G0- phase of the cell cycle compared to elderly HSC, of which there is a greater percentage in G1-, S-, G2-, or M-phases of the cell cycle (2.5-fold difference; p < 0.03). In contrast to the increase in HSC frequency, we did not detect any significant differences in the frequency of the earliest immunophenotypic common myeloid progenitors (CMP; Lin-CD34+CD38+CD123+CD45RA-), granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMP; Lin-CD34+CD38+CD123+CD45RA+), and megakaryocytic-erythroid progenitors (MEP; Lin-CD34+CD38+CD123-CD45RA-) from young and elderly bone marrow. We next analyzed the ability of young and elderly HSC to differentiate into myeloid and lymphoid lineages in vitro. We found that elderly HSC exhibit diminished capacity to differentiate into lymphoid B-lineage cells in the AC6.21 culture environment. We did not, however, observe significant differences in the ability of young and elderly HSC to form myeloid and erythroid colonies in methylcellulose culture, indicating that myelo-erythroid differentiation capacity is preserved in elderly HSC. Correspondingly, gene expression profiling of young and elderly human HSC indicate that elderly HSC have up-regulation of genes that specify myelo-erythroid fate and function and down-regulation of genes associated with lymphopoiesis. Additionally, elderly HSC exhibit increased levels of transcripts associated with transcription, active cell-cycle, cell growth and proliferation, and cell death. These data suggest that hematopoietic aging is associated with intrinsic changes in the gene expression of human HSC that reflect the quantitative and functional alterations of HSC seen in elderly bone marrow. In aged individuals, HSC are more numerous and, as a population, are more myeloid biased than young HSC, which are more balanced in lymphoid and myeloid potential. We are currently investigating the causes of and mechanisms behind these highly specific age-associated changes in human HSC.


Weissman:Amgen: Equity Ownership; Cellerant Inc.: ; Stem Cells Inc.: ; U.S. Patent Application 11/528,890 entitled “Methods for Diagnosing and Evaluating Treatment of Blood Disorders.”: Patents & Royalties.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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