Stem Cell Senescence in Diabetes: Forgetting the Sweet Old Memories

  1. Antonio Paolo Beltrami
  1. Department of Medical and Biological Sciences, University of Udine, Udine, Italy
  1. Corresponding author: Antonio Paolo Beltrami, antonio.beltrami{at}

Diabetic cardiomyopathy is identified by a left ventricular dysfunction due to metabolic and cellular abnormalities in the absence of atherosclerosis or hypertension and is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the diabetic population (1). It is characterized by myocardial necrosis and fibrosis, endothelial dysfunction, and stem cell senescence (2). This latter phenomenon is now considered to be a central mechanism of aging and age-related pathologies as it has been associated with the reduced ability of tissues to replace lost cells and to repair damage (3,4). In this issue, Vecellio et al. (5) analyzed the intriguing issue of whether stem cells isolated from diabetic hearts have a metabolic memory reminiscent of their original milieu. The term metabolic memory was first used to describe the persistent development of diabetes complications that intervenes even after glycemic control has been achieved (6). Recent studies have suggested that the epigenetic changes that occur in cells exposed to hyperglycemia may be responsible for this phenomenon (6).

Epigenetics may be defined as a heritable phenotype that does not depend on the primary sequence of DNA. This trait may involve its heritability through mitosis or meiosis (7). Chromatin is an orderly nucleoprotein assembly that results from the packaging of DNA with histone and nonhistone proteins (8). Eukaryotic chromatin may be viewed as a series of superimposed organizational layers. …

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