Aging is studied either on a systemic level using life span and health span of animal models, or on the cellular level using replicative life span of yeast or mammalian cells. While useful in identifying general and conserved pathways of aging, both approaches provide only limited information about cell-type specific causes and mechanisms of aging. Stem cells are the regenerative units of multicellular life, and stem cell aging might be a major cause for organismal aging. Using the examples of hematopoietic stem cell aging and human pluripotent stem cell models, we propose that stem cell models of aging are valuable for studying tissue-specific causes and mechanisms of aging and can provide unique insights into the mammalian aging process that may be inaccessible in simple model organisms.

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