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      Cellular senescence in aging and age-related disease: from mechanisms to therapy

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          Abstract

          Cellular senescence, a process that imposes permanent proliferative arrest on cells in response to various stressors, has emerged as a potentially important contributor to aging and age-related disease, and it is an attractive target for therapeutic exploitation. A wealth of information about senescence in cultured cells has been acquired over the past half century; however, senescence in living organisms is poorly understood, largely because of technical limitations relating to the identification and characterization of senescent cells in tissues and organs. Furthermore, newly recognized beneficial signaling functions of senescence suggest that indiscriminately targeting senescent cells or modulating their secretome for anti-aging therapy may have negative consequences. Here we discuss current progress and challenges in understanding the stressors that induce senescence in vivo, the cell types that are prone to senesce, and the autocrine and paracrine properties of senescent cells in the contexts of aging and age-related diseases as well as disease therapy.

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          Most cited references 111

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          Senescence and tumour clearance is triggered by p53 restoration in murine liver carcinomas.

          Although cancer arises from a combination of mutations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes, the extent to which tumour suppressor gene loss is required for maintaining established tumours is poorly understood. p53 is an important tumour suppressor that acts to restrict proliferation in response to DNA damage or deregulation of mitogenic oncogenes, by leading to the induction of various cell cycle checkpoints, apoptosis or cellular senescence. Consequently, p53 mutations increase cell proliferation and survival, and in some settings promote genomic instability and resistance to certain chemotherapies. To determine the consequences of reactivating the p53 pathway in tumours, we used RNA interference (RNAi) to conditionally regulate endogenous p53 expression in a mosaic mouse model of liver carcinoma. We show that even brief reactivation of endogenous p53 in p53-deficient tumours can produce complete tumour regressions. The primary response to p53 was not apoptosis, but instead involved the induction of a cellular senescence program that was associated with differentiation and the upregulation of inflammatory cytokines. This program, although producing only cell cycle arrest in vitro, also triggered an innate immune response that targeted the tumour cells in vivo, thereby contributing to tumour clearance. Our study indicates that p53 loss can be required for the maintenance of aggressive carcinomas, and illustrates how the cellular senescence program can act together with the innate immune system to potently limit tumour growth.
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            Persistent DNA damage signaling triggers senescence-associated inflammatory cytokine secretion

            Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by stably arresting the proliferation of damaged cells1. Paradoxically, senescent cells also secrete factors that alter tissue microenvironments2. The pathways regulating this secretion are unknown. We show that damaged human cells develop persistent chromatin lesions bearing hallmarks of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), which initiate increased secretion of inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-6 (IL-6). Cytokine secretion occurred only after establishment of persistent DNA damage signaling, usually associated with senescence, not after transient DNA damage responses (DDR). Initiation and maintenance of this cytokine response required the DDR proteins ATM, NBS1 and CHK2, but not the cell cycle arrest enforcers p53 and pRb. ATM was also essential for IL-6 secretion during oncogene-induced senescence and by damaged cells that bypass senescence. Further, DDR activity and IL-6 were elevated in human cancers, and ATM-depletion suppressed the ability of senescent cells to stimulate IL-6-dependent cancer cell invasiveness. Thus, in addition to orchestrating cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair, a novel and important role of the DDR is to allow damaged cells to communicate their compromised state to the surrounding tissue.
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              The Achilles’ heel of senescent cells: from transcriptome to senolytic drugs

              The healthspan of mice is enhanced by killing senescent cells using a transgenic suicide gene. Achieving the same using small molecules would have a tremendous impact on quality of life and the burden of age-related chronic diseases. Here, we describe the rationale for identification and validation of a new class of drugs termed senolytics, which selectively kill senescent cells. By transcript analysis, we discovered increased expression of pro-survival networks in senescent cells, consistent with their established resistance to apoptosis. Using siRNA to silence expression of key nodes of this network, including ephrins (EFNB1 or 3), PI3Kδ, p21, BCL-xL, or plasminogen-activated inhibitor-2, killed senescent cells, but not proliferating or quiescent, differentiated cells. Drugs targeting these same factors selectively killed senescent cells. Dasatinib eliminated senescent human fat cell progenitors, while quercetin was more effective against senescent human endothelial cells and mouse BM-MSCs. The combination of dasatinib and quercetin was effective in eliminating senescent MEFs. In vivo, this combination reduced senescent cell burden in chronologically aged, radiation-exposed, and progeroid Ercc1 −/Δ mice. In old mice, cardiac function and carotid vascular reactivity were improved 5 days after a single dose. Following irradiation of one limb in mice, a single dose led to improved exercise capacity for at least 7 months following drug treatment. Periodic drug administration extended healthspan in Ercc1 −/Δ mice, delaying age-related symptoms and pathology, osteoporosis, and loss of intervertebral disk proteoglycans. These results demonstrate the feasibility of selectively ablating senescent cells and the efficacy of senolytics for alleviating symptoms of frailty and extending healthspan.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Medicine
                Nat Med
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1078-8956
                1546-170X
                December 2015
                December 8 2015
                December 2015
                : 21
                : 12
                : 1424-1435
                Article
                10.1038/nm.4000
                26646499
                © 2015

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