Aged hematopoietic stem cells entrap regulatory T cells to create a prosurvival microenvironment

Cell Mol Immunol. 2023 Oct;20(10):1216-1231. doi: 10.1038/s41423-023-01072-3. Epub 2023 Aug 30.


Although DNA mutation drives stem cell aging, how mutation-accumulated stem cells obtain clonal advantage during aging remains poorly understood. Here, using a mouse model of irradiation-induced premature aging and middle-aged mice, we show that DNA mutation accumulation in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) during aging upregulates their surface expression of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHCII). MHCII upregulation increases the chance for recognition by bone marrow (BM)-resident regulatory T cells (Tregs), resulting in their clonal expansion and accumulation in the HSC niche. On the basis of the establishment of connexin 43 (Cx43)-mediated gap junctions, BM Tregs transfer cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) to aged HSCs to diminish apoptotic priming and promote their survival via activation of protein kinase A (PKA) signaling. Importantly, targeting the HSC-Treg interaction or depleting Tregs effectively prevents the premature/physiological aging of HSCs. These findings show that aged HSCs use an active self-protective mechanism by entrapping local Tregs to construct a prosurvival niche and obtain a clonal advantage.

Keywords: Aging; Hematopoietic stem cell; regulatory T cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow
  • Cellular Senescence
  • DNA / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory*


  • DNA