SHRO Logo During adulthood, stem cells apparently function to substitute mature cells lost to turnover, injury or disease. A few of the genes accountable for keeping stem cells active and fruitful supposedly alter the chromatin, the compound grouping of DNA and fibers that seem to make up chromosomes. At least this is what a new study claims.

Study authors from the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia and the Human Health Foundation in Spoleto, Italy apparently examined the influence of MECP2, one of the chromatin modifier genes. Their mutations appear to trigger RETT syndrome, an acute X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder, on mesenchymal stem cells, or MSCs, multipotent stem cells that could distinguish into various kinds of cell types.

“Our studies suggest that MECP2 is a factor whose expression must be tightly regulated to avoid alteration in the cell’s function. To be specific, its inhibition induces the senescence, or the aging, phenomena in MSCs,” commented Dr. Umberto Galderisi, Department of Experimental Medicine, Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Section, Second University of Naples, Italy and lead author of the study.

Dr. Antonio Giordano, director of the Sbarro Institute and the Center for Biotechnology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, remarked, “Studies on in vitro stem cell senescence can be of interest in order to dissect molecular events leading to a decline of stem cell functions with advancing of age.”

MSC’s are believed to be of specific interest to study authors owing to the numerous functions that they execute. They seem to support hematopoiesis, or blood production, and apparently add to the preservation of several organs and tissues. Their aging may have deep effects on body physiology.

The study was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.