Background: Transplantation of human hematopoietic stem cells into immunodeficient mice provides a powerful in vivo model system to gain functional insights into hematopoietic differentiation. So far, it remains unclear if epigenetic changes of normal human hematopoiesis are recapitulated upon engraftment into such "humanized mice." Mice have a much shorter life expectancy than men, and therefore, we hypothesized that the xenogeneic environment might greatly accelerate the epigenetic clock.
Results: We demonstrate that genome-wide DNA methylation patterns of normal human hematopoietic development are indeed recapitulated upon engraftment in mice-particularly those of normal early B cell progenitor cells. Furthermore, we tested three epigenetic aging signatures, and none of them indicated that the murine environment accelerated age-associated DNA methylation changes.
Conclusions: Epigenetic changes of human hematopoietic development are recapitulated in the murine transplantation model, whereas epigenetic aging is not accelerated by the faster aging environment and seems to occur in the cell intrinsically.
Keywords: Aging; DNA methylation; Epigenetic; Hematopoiesis; Humanized mice; Transplantation.