Biophysics

The benefits of being young

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Science  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6329, pp. 1036-1037
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6329.1036-f

In addition to chemical cues, the differentiation of stem cells can be influenced by mechanical forces, such as the stiffness of the underlying substrate, but these effects diminish with age. Barreto et al. compared the differentiation of mesenchymal stromal cells from donors aged 11 to 12 years and from young adults aged 20 to 30 years, when the skeleton has fully matured. The juvenile cells showed greater mechanosensitivity and enhanced angiogenesis and osteogenesis. From an examination of a number of growth factors, the authors found a key role for the protein JNK3, which might serve as a target for restoring the potential for regeneration in adults suffering from bone degeneration to that found in youth.

Acta Biomater. 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.02.031 (2017).

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