Clinical studies suggest that hypercholesterolemia may cause ageing in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) because ageing-associated alterations were found in peripheral blood cells and their bone marrow residing precursors in patients with advanced atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that hypercholesterolemia induces oxidant stress in hematopoietic stems cells that accelerates their ageing.
Here we show that HSCs from ApoE(-/-) mice, as well as HSCs from C57Bl/6 mice fed a high cholesterol diet (HCD) accumulated oxLDL and had greater ROS levels. In accordance, the expression pattern of the genes involved in ROS metabolism changed significantly in HSCs from ApoE(-/-) mice. Hypercholesterolemia caused a significant reduction in phenotypically defined long-term HSC compartment, telomere length, and repopulation capacity of KTLS cells, indicating accelerated ageing in these cells. Gene array analysis suggested abnormal cell cycle status, and the key cell cycle regulators including p19(ARF), p27(Kip1) and p21(Waf1) were upregulated in KTLS cells from hypercholesterolemic mice. These effects were p38-dependent and reversed in vivo by treatment of hypercholesterolemic mice with antioxidant N-acetylcysteine. The oxidant stress also caused aberrant expression of Notch1 that caused loss of quiescence and proliferation leading to the expansion of KTLS compartment in hypercholesterolemic mice.
Taken together, we provide evidence that hypercholesterolemia can cause oxidant stress that accelerates the ageing and impairs the reconstitution capacity of HSCs.