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Journal: Cell stem cell


The age-related failure to produce oligodendrocytes from oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) is associated with irreversible neurodegeneration in multiple sclerosis (MS). Consequently, regenerative approaches have significant potential for treating chronic demyelinating diseases. Here, we show that the differentiation potential of adult rodent OPCs decreases with age. Aged OPCs become unresponsive to pro-differentiation signals, suggesting intrinsic constraints on therapeutic approaches aimed at enhancing OPC differentiation. This decline in functional capacity is associated with hallmarks of cellular aging, including decreased metabolic function and increased DNA damage. Fasting or treatment with metformin can reverse these changes and restore the regenerative capacity of aged OPCs, improving remyelination in aged animals following focal demyelination. Aged OPCs treated with metformin regain responsiveness to pro-differentiation signals, suggesting synergistic effects of rejuvenation and pro-differentiation therapies. These findings provide insight into aging-associated remyelination failure and suggest therapeutic interventions for reversing such declines in chronic disease.


As humans age, normal tissues, such as the esophageal epithelium, become a patchwork of mutant clones. Some mutations are under positive selection, conferring a competitive advantage over wild-type cells. We speculated that altering the selective pressure on mutant cell populations may cause them to expand or contract. We tested this hypothesis by examining the effect of oxidative stress from low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) on wild-type and p53 mutant cells in the transgenic mouse esophagus. We found that LDIR drives wild-type cells to stop proliferating and differentiate. p53 mutant cells are insensitive to LDIR and outcompete wild-type cells following exposure. Remarkably, combining antioxidant treatment and LDIR reverses this effect, promoting wild-type cell proliferation and p53 mutant differentiation, reducing the p53 mutant population. Thus, p53-mutant cells can be depleted from the normal esophagus by redox manipulation, showing that external interventions may be used to alter the mutational landscape of an aging tissue.


The suspected link between infection by Zika virus (ZIKV), a re-emerging flavivirus, and microcephaly is an urgent global health concern. The direct target cells of ZIKV in the developing human fetus are not clear. Here we show that a strain of the ZIKV, MR766, serially passaged in monkey and mosquito cells efficiently infects human neural progenitor cells (hNPCs) derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. Infected hNPCs further release infectious ZIKV particles. Importantly, ZIKV infection increases cell death and dysregulates cell-cycle progression, resulting in attenuated hNPC growth. Global gene expression analysis of infected hNPCs reveals transcriptional dysregulation, notably of cell-cycle-related pathways. Our results identify hNPCs as a direct ZIKV target. In addition, we establish a tractable experimental model system to investigate the impact and mechanism of ZIKV on human brain development and provide a platform to screen therapeutic compounds.

Concepts: Nervous system, DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Developmental biology, Stem cell, Infection, Progenitor cell


Direct-to-consumer marketing of unapproved stem cell interventions is a well-known phenomenon in countries with lax medical regulations. However, an examination of Internet-based marketing claims revealed widespread promotion of such interventions by businesses based in the United States. Such commercial activity suggests that regulatory agencies must better oversee this marketplace.

Concepts: Cell division, Stem cell, United States, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, Marketing, Business, Humid subtropical climate


Adult hippocampal neurogenesis declines in aging rodents and primates. Aging humans are thought to exhibit waning neurogenesis and exercise-induced angiogenesis, with a resulting volumetric decrease in the neurogenic hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) region, although concurrent changes in these parameters are not well studied. Here we assessed whole autopsy hippocampi from healthy human individuals ranging from 14 to 79 years of age. We found similar numbers of intermediate neural progenitors and thousands of immature neurons in the DG, comparable numbers of glia and mature granule neurons, and equivalent DG volume across ages. Nevertheless, older individuals have less angiogenesis and neuroplasticity and a smaller quiescent progenitor pool in anterior-mid DG, with no changes in posterior DG. Thus, healthy older subjects without cognitive impairment, neuropsychiatric disease, or treatment display preserved neurogenesis. It is possible that ongoing hippocampal neurogenesis sustains human-specific cognitive function throughout life and that declines may be linked to compromised cognitive-emotional resilience.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Human, Dentate gyrus, Neurogenesis, Granule cell, Entorhinal cortex


Unisexual reproduction is widespread among lower vertebrates, but not in mammals. Deletion of the H19 imprinted region in immature oocytes produced bimaternal mice with defective growth; however, bipaternal reproduction has not been previously achieved in mammals. We found that cultured parthenogenetic and androgenetic haploid embryonic stem cells (haESCs) display DNA hypomethylation resembling that of primordial germ cells. Through MII oocyte injection or sperm coinjection with hypomethylated haploid ESCs carrying specific imprinted region deletions, we obtained live bimaternal and bipaternal mice. Deletion of 3 imprinted regions in parthenogenetic haploid ESCs restored normal growth of fertile bimaternal mice, whereas deletion of 7 imprinted regions in androgenetic haploid ESCs enabled production of live bipaternal mice that died shortly after birth. Phenotypic analyses of organ and body size of these mice support the genetic conflict theory of genomic imprinting. Taken together, our results highlight the factors necessary for crossing same-sex reproduction barriers in mammals.


Following fertilization, totipotent cells undergo asymmetric cell divisions, resulting in three distinct cell types in the late pre-implantation blastocyst: epiblast (Epi), primitive endoderm (PrE), and trophectoderm (TE). Here, we aim to understand whether these three cell types can be induced from fibroblasts by one combination of transcription factors. By utilizing a sophisticated fluorescent knockin reporter system, we identified a combination of five transcription factors, Gata3, Eomes, Tfap2c, Myc, and Esrrb, that can reprogram fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), induced trophoblast stem cells (iTSCs), and induced extraembryonic endoderm stem cells (iXENs) , concomitantly. In-depth transcriptomic, chromatin, and epigenetic analyses provide insights into the molecular mechanisms that underlie the reprogramming process toward the three cell types. Mechanistically, we show that the interplay between Esrrb and Eomes during the reprogramming process determines cell fate, where high levels of Esrrb induce a XEN-like state that drives pluripotency and high levels of Eomes drive trophectodermal fate.


Zika virus (ZIKV)-related neuropathology is an important global health concern. Several studies have shown that ZIKV can infect neural stem cells in the developing brain, but infection in the adult brain has not been examined. Two areas in the adult mouse brain contain neural stem cells: the subventricular zone of the anterior forebrain and the subgranular zone of the hippocampus. Here, using 6-week-old mice triply deficient in interferon regulatory factor (IRF) as a model, we show that blood-borne ZIKV administration can lead to pronounced evidence of ZIKV infection in these adult neural stem cells, leading to cell death and reduced proliferation. Our data therefore suggest that adult as well as fetal neural stem cells are vulnerable to ZIKV neuropathology. Thus, although ZIKV is considered a transient infection in adult humans without marked long-term effects, there may in fact be consequences of exposure in the adult brain.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Neuron, Gene, Brain, Virus, Infection, Cerebrum, Neurogenesis


Immune system defects are at the center of aging and a range of diseases. Here, we show that prolonged fasting reduces circulating IGF-1 levels and PKA activity in various cell populations, leading to signal transduction changes in long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) and niche cells that promote stress resistance, self-renewal, and lineage-balanced regeneration. Multiple cycles of fasting abated the immunosuppression and mortality caused by chemotherapy and reversed age-dependent myeloid-bias in mice, in agreement with preliminary data on the protection of lymphocytes from chemotoxicity in fasting patients. The proregenerative effects of fasting on stem cells were recapitulated by deficiencies in either IGF-1 or PKA and blunted by exogenous IGF-1. These findings link the reduced levels of IGF-1 caused by fasting to PKA signaling and establish their crucial role in regulating hematopoietic stem cell protection, self-renewal, and regeneration.

Concepts: Immune system, Organism, Cell division, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Stem cells, Cell biology, Hematopoietic stem cell


Aging is linked to functional deterioration and hematological diseases. The hematopoietic system is maintained by hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and dysfunction within the HSC compartment is thought to be a key mechanism underlying age-related hematopoietic perturbations. Using single-cell transplantation assays with five blood-lineage analysis, we previously identified myeloid-restricted repopulating progenitors (MyRPs) within the phenotypic HSC compartment in young mice. Here, we determined the age-related functional changes to the HSC compartment using over 400 single-cell transplantation assays. Notably, MyRP frequency increased dramatically with age, while multipotent HSCs expanded modestly within the bone marrow. We also identified a subset of functional cells that were myeloid restricted in primary recipients but displayed multipotent (five blood-lineage) output in secondary recipients. We have termed this cell type latent-HSCs, which appear exclusive to the aged HSC compartment. These results question the traditional dogma of HSC aging and our current approaches to assay and define HSCs.

Concepts: Gene, Cell division, Stem cell, Bone marrow, Stem cells, Hematology, Hematopoietic stem cell, Blood cells