Changes in human bone marrow fat content associated with changes in hematopoietic stem cell numbers and cytokine levels with aging

Sonal R. Tuljapurkar, Timothy R. Mcguire, Susan K. Brusnahan, John D. Jackson, Kevin L. Garvin, Margaret A. Kessinger, Judy T. Lane, Barbara J. O'Kane, John G. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Hematological deficiencies increase with aging, including anemias, reduced responses to hematopoietic stress and myelodysplasias. This investigation tested the hypothesis that increased bone marrow (BM) fat content in humans with age was associated with decreased numbers of side population (SP) hematopoietic stem cells, and this decrease correlated with changes in cytokine levels. BM was obtained from the femoral head and trochanteric region of the femur removed at surgery for total hip replacement (N=100 subjects). In addition, BM from cadavers (N=36), with no evidence of hip disease, was evaluated for fat content. Whole trabecular marrow samples were ground in a sterile mortar and pestle, and cellularity and lipid content determined. Marrow cells were stained with Hoechst dye and SP profiles were acquired. Plasma levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1, stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1 and interleukin (IL)-6 were measured using ELISA. Fat content in the BM of human subjects and cadavers increased with age. The numbers of SP stem cells in BM as well as plasma IGF-1 and SDF-1 levels decreased in correlation with increased BM fat. IL-6 had no relationship to changes in marrow fat. These data suggest that increased BM fat may be associated with a decreased number of SP stem cells and IGF-1 and SDF-1 levels with aging. These data further raise a more general question as to the role of adipose cells in the regulation of tissue stem cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Adipocytes
  • Aging
  • Bone marrow
  • Cytokines
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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