Progeria accelerates adult stem cell aging

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Science  05 Jun 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6239, pp. 1093-1094
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4214

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Aging is a multimodal process involving accumulation of macromolecular damage, genomic instability, and loss of heterochromatin, leading to stem cell exhaustion and reduced tissue-regenerative capability. Still highly debated are the extent to which loss of adult stem cell regenerative potential drives the organismal aging process and, more broadly, the relationship between cellular and organismal aging. On page 1160 of this issue, Zhang et al. (1) report the disruption of the WRN gene, mutations of which cause Werner syndrome (WS), in embryonic stem cells (ESCs). The dramatic phenotype of the WRN-deficient ESCs resembles aspects of aging but only after differentiation of the ESCs into mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The findings provide insights into the molecular events driving WS pathology, reveal similarities between Werner and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndromes (HGPS), and hint at the potential reversibility of the aging process, at least at the cellular level.