Adult stem cells become slower at dividing as they age because they get less efficient at sensing their microenvironment, according to a study to be published in Nature tomorrow. The findings suggest a mechanism to explain why production of adult stem cells such as sperm drops as an organism gets older. "I think this is a fantastic piece of work that begins to explain" how adult stem cells age, said linkurl:Leanne Jones,; a stem cell biologist at the Salk Institute, who was not involved in the study. Adult stem cells divide linkurl:asymmetrically,; yielding one stem cell and one specialized daughter cell. But over time, they develop delays in their cell cycle, a factor thought to be linked to tissue aging. The stem cell niche, or microenvironment, helps to maintain stem cell identity by signaling for cell division to be turned on and off, said linkurl:Yukiko Yamashita,; a stem cell scientist...

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