Increasing evidence suggests that the loss of functional stem cells may be important in the aging process. Our experiments were originally aimed at testing the idea that, in the specific case of age-related osteoporosis, declining function of osteogenic precursor cells might be at least partially responsible. To test this, aging female mice were transplanted with mesenchymal stem cells from aged or young male donors. We find that transplantation of young mesenchymal stem cells significantly slows the loss of bone density and, surprisingly, prolongs the life span of old mice. These observations lend further support to the idea that age-related diminution of stem cell number or function may play a critical role in age-related loss of bone density in aging animals and may be one determinant of overall longevity.
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