‘Inflamm-aging’ Slows Healing of Injured Bones as We Age


April 10, 2019 — A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) finds that an increase in chronic inflammation is the reason injured bones do not heal as well with age. The study explains that an age-related growth in immune signals impedes the ability of stem cells to multiply. This reduced number hinders the stem cells’ ability to rebuild bone after an injury.

“Our results argue that age-associated inflammation—called ‘inflamm-aging’—is the culprit in the decline in the number and function of the skeletal stem cells that enable bones to heal,” says senior study author Philipp Leucht, MD, assistant professor in the departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Cell Biology at NYU School of Medicine.

The study started with observations of human subjects in which the authors demonstrated a direct correlation between stem cell number and time to bone fracture healing. They then devised an animal model to do the testing. “The researchers found that exposing stem cells from young mice to the blood serum of the older mice made their stem cells four times less likely to divide and multiply, an irreversible state called senescence,” read the release from NYU Langone Health. Treating the inflammation helped in the healing of bone fractures.

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