Identification of Unique mRNA and miRNA Expression Patterns in Bone Marrow Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells After Trauma in Older Adults

Front Immunol. 2020 Jun 24;11:1289. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2020.01289. eCollection 2020.


Older adults have significantly worse morbidity and mortality after severe trauma than younger cohorts. The competency of the innate immune response decreases with advancing age, especially after an inflammatory insult. Subsequent poor outcomes after trauma are caused in part by dysfunctional leukocytes derived from the host's hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). Our objective was to analyze the bone marrow (BM) HSPC transcriptomic [mRNA and microRNA (miR)] responses to trauma in older and younger adults. BM was collected intraoperatively <9 days after initial injury from trauma patients with non-mild injury [ISS ≥ 9] or with shock (lactate ≥ 2, base deficit ≥ 5, MAP ≤ 65) who underwent operative fixation of a pelvic or long bone fracture. Samples were also analyzed based on age (<55 years and ≥55 years), ISS score and transfusion in the first 24 h, and compared to age/sex-matched controls from non-cancer elective hip replacement or purchased healthy younger adult human BM aspirates. mRNA and miR expression patterns were calculated from lineage-negative enriched HSPCs. 924 genes were differentially expressed in older trauma subjects vs. age/sex-matched controls, while 654 genes were differentially expressed in younger subjects vs. age/sex-matched control. Only 68 transcriptomic changes were shared between the two groups. Subsequent analysis revealed upregulation of transcriptomic pathways related to quantity, function, differentiation, and proliferation of HSPCs in only the younger cohort. miR expression differences were also identified, many of which were associated with cell cycle regulation. In summary, differences in the BM HSPC mRNA and miR expression were identified between older and younger adult trauma subjects. These differences in gene and miR expression were related to pathways involved in HSPC production and differentiation. These differences could potentially explain why older adult patients have a suboptimal hematopoietic response to trauma. Although immunomodulation of HSPCs may be a necessary consideration to promote host protective immunity after host injury, the age related differences further highlight that patients may require an age-defined medical approach with interventions that are specific to their transcriptomic and biologic response. Also, targeting the older adult miRs may be possible for interventions in this patient population.

Keywords: RNA; age; bone marrow; hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell; microRNA; transcriptome; trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genomics / methods
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Wounds and Injuries / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger