Aged hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are impaired in supporting hematopoiesis. The molecular and cellular mechanisms of stem cell aging are not well defined. HSCs interact with nonhematopoietic stroma cells in the bone marrow forming the niche. Interactions of hematopoietic cells with the stroma/microenvironment inside bone cavities are central to hematopoiesis as they regulate cell proliferation, self-renewal, and differentiation. We recently hypothesized that one underlying cause of altered hematopoiesis in aging might be due to altered interactions of aged stem cells with the microenvironment/niche. We developed time-lapse 2-photon microscopy and novel image analysis algorithms to quantify the dynamics of young and aged hematopoietic cells inside the marrow of long bones of mice in vivo. We report in this study that aged early hematopoietic progenitor cells (eHPCs) present with increased cell protrusion movement in vivo and localize more distantly to the endosteum compared with young eHPCs. This correlated with reduced adhesion to stroma cells as well as reduced cell polarity upon adhesion of aged eHPCs. These data support a role of altered eHPC dynamics and altered cell polarity, and thus altered niche biology in mechanisms of mammalian aging.
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