Aged intestinal stem cells propagate cell-intrinsic sources of inflammaging in mice


  • M.C. Funk
  • J.G. Gleixner
  • F. Heigwer
  • D. Vonficht
  • E. Valentini
  • Z. Aydin
  • E. Tonin
  • S. Del Prete
  • S. Mahara
  • Y. Throm
  • J. Hetzer
  • D. Heide
  • O. Stegle
  • D.T. Odom
  • A. Feldmann
  • S. Haas
  • M. Heikenwalder
  • M. Boutros


  • Developmental Cell


  • Dev Cell 58 (24): 2914-2929


  • Low-grade chronic inflammation is a hallmark of ageing, associated with impaired tissue function and disease development. However, how cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic factors collectively establish this phenotype, termed inflammaging, remains poorly understood. We addressed this question in the mouse intestinal epithelium, using mouse organoid cultures to dissect stem cell-intrinsic and -extrinsic sources of inflammaging. At the single-cell level, we found that inflammaging is established differently along the crypt-villus axis, with aged intestinal stem cells (ISCs) strongly upregulating major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II) genes. Importantly, the inflammaging phenotype was stably propagated by aged ISCs in organoid cultures and associated with increased chromatin accessibility at inflammation-associated loci in vivo and ex vivo, indicating cell-intrinsic inflammatory memory. Mechanistically, we show that the expression of inflammatory genes is dependent on STAT1 signaling. Together, our data identify that intestinal inflammaging in mice is promoted by a cell-intrinsic mechanism, stably propagated by ISCs, and associated with a disbalance in immune homeostasis.