Age-associated changes in microRNAs affect the differentiation potential of human mesenchymal stem cells: Novel role of miR-29b-1-5p expression

Nada H. Eisa, Sudharsan Periyasamy Thandavan, Sergio Mas Herrero, Samuel A. Herberg, Brian F. Volkman, Alexandra Aguilar-Pérez, Dmitry Yuryevich Kondrikov, Ahmed M. Elmansi, Charles Reitman, Xingming Shi, Sadanand Fulzele, Meghan E. McGee-Lawrence, Carlos M. Isales, Mark W. Hamrick, Maribeth H. Johnson, Jie Chen, William D Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Age-associated osteoporosis is widely accepted as involving the disruption of osteogenic stem cell populations and their functioning. Maintenance of the local bone marrow (BM) microenvironment is critical for regulating proliferation and differentiation of the multipotent BM mesenchymal stromal/stem cell (BMSC) population with age. The potential role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in modulating BMSCs and the BM microenvironment has recently gained attention. However, miRNAs expressed in rapidly isolated BMSCs that are naïve to the non-physiologic standard tissue culture conditions and reflect a more accurate in vivo profile have not yet been reported. Here we directly isolated CD271 positive (+) BMSCs within hours from human surgical BM aspirates without culturing and performed microarray analysis to identify the age-associated changes in BMSC miRNA expression. One hundred and two miRNAs showed differential expression with aging. Target prediction and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analyses revealed that the up-regulated miRNAs targeting genes in bone development pathways were considerably enriched. Among the differentially up-regulated miRNAs the novel passenger strand miR-29b-1-5p was abundantly expressed as a mature functional miRNA with aging. This suggests a critical arm-switching mechanism regulates the expression of the miR-29b-1-5p/3p pair shifting the normally degraded arm, miR-29b-1-5p, to be the dominantly expressed miRNA of the pair in aging. The normal guide strand miR-29b-1-3p is known to act as a pro-osteogenic miRNA. On the other hand, overexpression of the passenger strand miR-29b-1-5p in culture-expanded CD271+ BMSCs significantly down-regulated the expression of stromal cell-derived factor 1 (CXCL12)/ C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (SDF-1(CXCL12)/CXCR4) axis and other osteogenic genes including bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) and runt-related transcription factor 2 (RUNX2). In contrast, blocking of miR-29b-1-5p function using an antagomir inhibitor up-regulated expression of BMP-2 and RUNX2 genes. Functional assays confirmed that miR-29b-1-5p negatively regulates BMSC osteogenesis in vitro. These novel findings provide evidence of a pathogenic anti-osteogenic role for miR-29b-1-5p and other miRNAs in age-related defects in osteogenesis and bone regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116154
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Aging
  • CXCL12
  • Human mesenchymal stem cells
  • Osteoporosis
  • SDF-1
  • microRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Histology


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