Decline in IGF1 in the bone marrow microenvironment initiates hematopoietic stem cell aging.
Decline in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function with age underlies limited health span of our blood and immune systems. In order to preserve health into older age, it is necessary to understand the nature and timing of initiating events that cause HSC aging. By performing a cross-sectional study in mice, we discover that hallmarks of aging in HSCs and hematopoiesis begin to accumulate by middle age and that the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment at middle age induces and is indispensable for hematopoietic aging. Using unbiased approaches, we find that decreased levels of the longevity-associated molecule IGF1 in the local middle-aged BM microenvironment are a factor causing HSC aging. Direct stimulation of middle-aged HSCs with IGF1 rescues molecular and functional hallmarks of aging, including restored mitochondrial activity. Thus, although decline in IGF1 supports longevity, our work indicates that this also compromises HSC function and limits hematopoietic health span.