Research Papers: Gerotarget (Focus on Aging):

Systemic attenuation of the TGF-β pathway by a single drug simultaneously rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and myogenesis in the same old mammal

Hanadie Yousef _, Michael J. Conboy, Adam Morgenthaler, Christina Schlesinger, Lukasz Bugaj, Preeti Paliwal, Christopher Greer, Irina M. Conboy and David Schaffer

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:11959-11978. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.3851

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Hanadie Yousef2,5, Michael J. Conboy1, Adam Morgenthaler1, Christina Schlesinger1, Lukasz Bugaj1, Preeti Paliwal1, Christopher Greer1, Irina M. Conboy1, David Schaffer1,3,4

1Department of Bioengineering and California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

2Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

3Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

4Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

5Current address Stanford University, Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences

Correspondence to:

David Schaffer, e-mail: [email protected]

Irina M. Conboy, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: aging, stem cell microenvironment, neurogenesis, TGF-β signaling, myogenesis

Received: March 03, 2015     Accepted: April 24, 2015     Published: May 06, 2015


Stem cell function declines with age largely due to the biochemical imbalances in their tissue niches, and this work demonstrates that aging imposes an elevation in transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling in the neurogenic niche of the hippocampus, analogous to the previously demonstrated changes in the myogenic niche of skeletal muscle with age. Exploring the hypothesis that youthful calibration of key signaling pathways may enhance regeneration of multiple old tissues, we found that systemically attenuating TGF-β signaling with a single drug simultaneously enhanced neurogenesis and muscle regeneration in the same old mice, findings further substantiated via genetic perturbations. At the levels of cellular mechanism, our results establish that the age-specific increase in TGF-β1 in the stem cell niches of aged hippocampus involves microglia and that such an increase is pro-inflammatory both in brain and muscle, as assayed by the elevated expression of β2 microglobulin (B2M), a component of MHC class I molecules. These findings suggest that at high levels typical of aged tissues, TGF-β1 promotes inflammation instead of its canonical role in attenuating immune responses. In agreement with this conclusion, inhibition of TGF-β1 signaling normalized B2M to young levels in both studied tissues.

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