Epigenetics and the Aging of Stem Cells

A recent review: "The function of adult tissue-specific stem cells declines with age, which may contribute to the physiological decline in tissue homeostasis and the increased risk of neoplasm during aging. Old stem cells can be 'rejuvenated' by environmental stimuli in some cases, raising the possibility that a subset of age-dependent stem cell changes is regulated by reversible mechanisms. Epigenetic regulators are good candidates for such mechanisms, as they provide a versatile checkpoint to mediate plastic changes in gene expression and have recently been found to control organismal longevity. Here, we review the importance of chromatin regulation in adult stem cell compartments. We particularly focus on the roles of chromatin-modifying complexes and transcription factors that directly impact chromatin in aging stem cells. Understanding the regulation of chromatin states in adult stem cells is likely to have important implications for identifying avenues to maintain the homeostatic balance between sustained function and neoplastic transformation of aging."

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21441951

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