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Stem cells, ageing and the quest for immortality

Abstract

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Adult stem cells reside in most mammalian tissues, but the extent to which they contribute to normal homeostasis and repair varies widely. There is an overall decline in tissue regenerative potential with age, and the question arises as to whether this is due to the intrinsic ageing of stem cells or, rather, to the impairment of stem-cell function in the aged tissue environment. Unravelling these distinct contributions to the aged phenotype will be critical to the success of any therapeutic application of stem cells in the emerging field of regenerative medicine with respect to tissue injury, degenerative diseases or normal functional declines that accompany ageing.

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Figure 1: Tissue heterogeneity and stem-cell functionality for homeostasis and repair.
Figure 2: Variation of maximal lifespan across species.
Figure 3: Influences on stem-cell functionality.
Figure 4: Ageing of stem-cell functionality.
Figure 5: Chronological and replicative ageing.

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Acknowledgements

The author thanks R. Wyman (Yale University), A. Wagers (Harvard University), M. Reed (University of Washington), and C. Kuo and E. Chiao (Stanford University) for helpful discussions. This work was supported by an National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award to T.A.R.

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Rando, T. Stem cells, ageing and the quest for immortality. Nature 441, 1080–1086 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature04958

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