Metabolic properties of stem cells are intertwined with stem cell behavior in the laboratory and in the physiological environment of the animal in vivo.
Stem cell function is often compromised by their maintenance in a dish in vitro. Elucidating the mechanisms that influence stem cell metabolism will be invaluable for the maintenance and expansion of stem cells in the laboratory for therapeutic purposes. At the Black Family Stem Cell Institute investigators have dedicated significant efforts to unravel the metabolic properties of stem cells.
Aging is associated with a decline in tissue regeneration leading to increased degenerative disease and cancer. Researchers believe that this age-related decline in tissue function is at the root of overall organismal aging. Stem cells maintain tissue homeostasis by regenerating damaged or lost cells and tissues during their lifetime. Stem cell function declines with age in many tissues, including blood, skin, brain, and skeletal muscle. Age-related modulations of stem cell properties, including their interactions with a changing environment, are thought to contribute to their regenerative decline with age. The decline of the regenerative capacity of stem cells with age compromises tissue integrity and may promote organ failure and diseases of aging. Identifying regulators of stem cell aging is of major significance for public health because such regulators may contribute to promoting healthy aging and be valuable therapeutic targets to fight disorders of aging, such as cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Investigators at the Institute are greatly motivated to elucidate mechanisms of stem cell aging in various tissues. In these efforts, we focus on the modulation of stem cell metabolism with age and its influence on stem cell epigenetics.
Investigators with a major focus in the stem cell metabolism and aging include: