An article in yesterday’s New Scientist (here) summarises the results of the analysis of the blood and tissues of the woman who, when she died in 2005, was the oldest woman in the world. Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper (above) was from the Netherlands. She reached the great age of 115, and bequeathed her body to medical science.
The scientists found that “about two-thirds of the white blood cells remaining in her body at death originated from just two stem cells, implying that most or all of the blood stem cells she started life with had already burned out and died.” We start life with around 20,000 blood stem cells. They also observed that her ” white blood cells had drastically worn-down telomeres – the protective tips on chromosomes that burn down like wicks each time a cell divides.”
This wonderful diagram called “The Tree of Blood“, shows how blood stem cells differentiate into mature blood cells.
restoring her blood.
One by one
her cells surrender.
just two survive,
the mother cells,
pushing the limits,
to the end.
* Haematopoiesis (from Greek αἷμα, "blood" and ποιεῖν "to make") is
the formation of blood cellular components.
© Mike Hopkins 2014