Hematopoietic progenitors and aging: alterations in granulocytic precursors and responsiveness to recombinant human G-CSF, GM-CSF, and IL-3

J Gerontol. 1993 Sep;48(5):M207-12. doi: 10.1093/geronj/48.5.m207.


Background: Changes either in the number or in the responsiveness of hematopoietic progenitors may be a major factor accounting for age-related changes in stimulus driven hematopoiesis.

Methods: To test these hypotheses, we compared the relative proportions and the responsiveness of CD34+ bone marrow cells from healthy young (20-30 yrs) and healthy elderly (70-80 yrs) volunteers to G-CSF, GM-CSF, and IL-3 in an in vitro marrow culture system.

Results: There was no age-related difference either in the proportion of CD34+ marrow cells or in the proportion of a more mature CD34+ subset, defined as CD34+, CD33+ cells. Maximal colony formation by CD34+ cells stimulated with a combination of G-CSF, GM-CSF, and IL-3 was similar in the two groups, but the dose-response studies with individual growth factors revealed a 2-fold decrease in sensitivity of the elderly subjects' cells to G-CSF (p < .01).

Conclusions: Aging has little impact on the marrow content of early precursors of the neutrophil lineage. There is, however, a significant difference in the in vitro proliferative response of these cells to the lineage specific growth factor G-CSF. This alteration may account for the greater propensity in elderly populations for the development of neutropenia with severe infections and chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Antigens, CD / analysis
  • Bone Marrow Cells*
  • Cell Division
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / physiology*
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / physiology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-3 / administration & dosage
  • Interleukin-3 / physiology*
  • Male


  • Antigens, CD
  • Interleukin-3
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor