In the osteohematopoietic niche, home of bone and blood stem cells, the aging process affects both cell types. Clinically, this translates into fragility fractures and anemia. Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a human disease of age-related impaired function of the osteohematopoietic niche. To disentangle the alterations in MDS, a comprehensive approach with suitable disease models is required.
Using big data analysis of almost 900,000 patients, we recently found that MDS patients indeed have 2-fold higher risk for osteoporosis. Moreover, treatment of cytopenia in MDS may require continuous blood transfusions posing the risk of iron overload or treatment with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, both of which negatively impact on bone. Despite recent progress, MDS is far from being fully understood and disease-specific therapies are missing. Elucidation of key mechanisms offers the prospects of improving bone function and hematopoietic function alike. This motivated researchers at the Bone Lab to take a closer look.