Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an age-related fatal disease with unknown etiology and no effective treatment. In this study, we show that primary cultures of fibroblasts derived from lung biopsies of IPF patients exhibited (i) accelerated replicative cellular senescence (CS); (ii) high resistance to oxidative-stress-induced cytotoxicity or CS; (iii) a CS-like morphology (even at the proliferative phase); and (iv) rapid accumulation of senescent cells expressing the myofibroblast marker α-SMA. Our findings suggest that CS could serve as a bridge connecting lung aging and its quite frequent outcome -- pulmonary fibrosis, and be an important player in the disease progression. Consequently, targeting senescent cells offers the potential of being a promising therapeutic approach.
The role of cellular senescence (CS) in age-related diseases (ARDs) is a quickly emerging topic in aging research. Our comprehensive data mining revealed over 250 genes tightly associated with CS. Using systems biology tools, we found that CS is closely interconnected with aging, longevity and ARDs, either by sharing common genes and regulators or by protein-protein interactions and eventually by common signaling pathways. The most enriched pathways across CS, ARDs and aging-associated conditions (oxidative stress and chronic inflammation) are growth-promoting pathways and the pathways responsible for cell-extracellular matrix interactions and stress response. Of note, the patterns of evolutionary conservation of CS and cancer genes showed a high degree of similarity, suggesting the co-evolution of these two phenomena. Moreover, cancer genes and microRNAs seem to stand at the crossroad between CS and ARDs. Our analysis also provides the basis for new predictions: the genes common to both cancer and other ARD(s) are highly likely candidates to be involved in CS and vice versa. Altogether, this study shows that there are multiple links between CS, aging, longevity and ARDs, suggesting a common molecular basis for all these conditions. Modulating CS may represent a potential pro-longevity and anti-ARDs therapeutic strategy.
SummaryHundreds of genes, when manipulated, affect the lifespan of model organisms (yeast, worm, fruit fly, and mouse) and thus can be defined as longevity‐associated genes (LAGs). A major challenge is to determine whether these LAGs are model‐specific or may play a universal role as longevity regulators across diverse taxa. A wide‐scale comparative analysis of the 1805 known LAGs across 205 species revealed that (i) LAG orthologs are substantially overrepresented, from bacteria to mammals, compared to the entire genomes or interactomes, and this was especially noted for essential LAGs; (ii) the effects on lifespan, when manipulating orthologous LAGs in different model organisms, were mostly concordant, despite a high evolutionary distance between them; (iii) LAGs that have orthologs across a high number of phyla were enriched in translational processes, energy metabolism, and DNA repair genes; (iv) LAGs that have no orthologs out of the taxa in which they were discovered were enriched in autophagy (Ascomycota/Fungi), G proteins (Nematodes), and neuroactive ligand–receptor interactions (Chordata). The results also suggest that antagonistic pleiotropy might be a conserved principle of aging and highlight the importance of overexpression studies in the search for longevity regulators.
Wound healing (WH) is a fundamental biological process. Is it associated with a longevity or aging phenotype? In an attempt to answer this question, we compared the established mouse models with genetically modified life span and also an altered rate of WH in the skin. Our analysis showed that the rate of skin WH in advanced ages (but not in the young animals) may be used as a marker for biological age, i.e., to be indicative of the longevity or aging phenotype. The ability to preserve the rate of skin WH up to an old age appears to be associated with a longevity phenotype, whereas a decline in WH-with an aging phenotype. In the young, this relationship is more complex and might even be inversed. While the aging process is likely to cause wounds to heal slowly, an altered WH rate in younger animals could indicate a different cellular proliferation and/or migration capacity, which is likely to affect other major processes such as the onset and progression of cancer. As a point for future studies on WH and longevity, using only young animals might yield confusing or misleading results, and therefore including older animals in the analysis is encouraged.
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