Identification of small juvenile stem cells in aged bone marrow and their therapeutic potential for repair of the ischemic heart

Koichi Igura, Motoi Okada, Ha Won Kim, Muhammad Ashraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Stem cell-mediated cardiac regeneration is impaired with age. In this study, we identified a novel subpopulation of small juvenile stem cells (SJSCs) isolated from aged bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSCs) with high proliferation and differentiation potential. SJSCs expressed mesenchymal stem cell markers, CD29+/CD44+/CD59+/CD90+, but were negative for CD45-/CD117- as examined by flow cytometry analysis. SJSCs showed higher proliferation, colony formation, and differentiation abilities compared with BMSCs. We also observed that SJSCs significantly expressed cardiac lineage markers (Gata-4 and myocyte-specific enhancer factor 2C) and pluripotency markers (octamer-binding transcription factor 4, sex-determining region Y box 2, stage-specific embryonic antigen 1, and Nanog) as well as antiaging factors such as telomerase reverse transcriptase and sirtuin 1. Interestingly, SJSCs either from young or aged animals showed significantly longer telomere length as well as lower senescence-associated β-galactosidase expression, suggesting that SJSCs possess antiaging properties, whereas aged BMSCs have limited potential for proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, transplantation of aged SJSCs into the infarcted rat heart significantly reduced the infarction size and improved left ventricular function, whereas transplantation of aged BMSCs was less effective. Moreover, neovascularization as well as cardiomyogenic differentiation in the peri-infarcted area were significantly increased in the SJSC-transplanted group compared with the BMSC-transplated group, as evaluated by immunohistochemical analysis. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that SJSCs possess characteristics of antiaging, pluripotency, and high proliferation and differentiation rates, and, therefore, these cells offer great therapeutic potential for repair of the injured myocardium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1354-H1362
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiaging
  • Cardiac repair
  • Small juvenile stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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