Under conditions of stress, hematopoetic stem cells are driven into a state of rapid cell division in order to produce new blood cells and repair damaged tissue. Conditions of stress such as chronic blood loss or infection triggered the stem cells. The study was conducted at German Cancer Research Center.
Dr. Michael Milsom, leader of the study, said that their theory was that this state of dormancy protected hematopoietic stem cells from DNA damage and, therefore, protects them from premature aging.
Milsom continued that they believe that this model perfectly explains the gradual accumulation of DNA damage in stem cells with age and the associated reduction in the ability of a tissue to maintain and repair itself as one gets older.
Prof. Dr. Andreas Trumpp, director of HI-STEM and head of the Division of Stem Cells and Cancer at the DKFZ , said that the novel link between physiologic stress, mutations in stem cells and aging is very exciting and by understanding the mechanism via which stem cells age, we can start to think about strategies to prevent or at least reduce the risk of damaged stem cells which are the cause of aging and the seed of cancer.