Why Adult Stem Cell Functionality Declines with Age? Studies from the Fruit Fly Drosophila Melanogaster Model Organism
Oren Gonen and Hila Toledano
Affiliation: Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel.
Keywords: Aging, Adult stem cells, Niche, Drosophila.
Highly regenerative adult tissues are supported by rare populations of stem cells that continuously divide to
self-renew and generate differentiated progeny. This process is tightly regulated by signals emanating from surrounding
cells to fulfill the dynamic demands of the tissue. One of the hallmarks of aging is slow and aberrant tissue regeneration
due to deteriorated function of stem and supporting cells. Several Drosophila regenerative tissues are unique in that they
provide exact identification of stem and neighboring cells in whole-tissue anatomy. This allows for precise tracking of
age-related changes as well as their targeted manipulation within the tissue. In this review we present the stem cell niche
of Drosophila testis, ovary and intestine and describe the major changes and phenotypes that occur in the course of aging.
Specifically we discuss changes in both intrinsic properties of stem cells and their microenvironment that contribute to the
decline in tissue functionality. Understanding these mechanisms in adult Drosophila tissues will likely provide new paradigms
in the field of aging.
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