Rudolph Research Group
Stem Cell Aging:
When the Strength Is on the Wane
The research group Stem Cell Aging of K. Lenhard Rudolph, scientific director of FLI, is engaged in investigating the antecedents, processes and consequences of stem cell aging. Adult stem cells are essential for the lifelong maintenance and regeneration of various organs and tissues including skin and epithelial tissues, skeletal muscle, as well as the hematopoietic and the immune system. Experimental and clinical data indicate that the functional capacity of adult stem cells in organ regeneration declines during aging. Molecular mechanisms that cause impairments in stem cell function during aging are still incompletely understood.
Genetic analyses identified a growing number of genes and genetic loci that are associated with longevity and aging in model organisms and humans. For most of these associations the molecular mechanisms and their functional relevance for mammalian aging remain unknown. In many cases of genetic loci associations, the responsible genes have not even been identified. A bottleneck in our understanding of aging remains to identify functionally relevant genes and molecular mechanisms that influence organismal aging. Emerging experimental data indicate that at least some of the aging/longevity-associated genes influence the functional reserve of adult stem cells.