Cellular senescence is a cell state implicated in various physiological processes and a wide spectrum of age-related diseases. Recently, interest in therapeutically targeting senescence to improve healthy aging and age-related disease, otherwise known as senotherapy, has been growing rapidly. Thus, the accurate detection of senescent cells, especially in vivo, is essential. Here, we present a consensus from the International Cell Senescence Association (ICSA), defining and discussing key cellular and molecular features of senescence and offering recommendations on how to use them as biomarkers. We also present a resource tool to facilitate the identification of genes linked with senescence, SeneQuest (available at http://Senequest.net). Lastly, we propose an algorithm to accurately assess and quantify senescence, both in cultured cells and in vivo. Cellular Senescence: Walking a Line between Life and Death Cell states link both physiological and stress signals to tissue homeostasis and organismal health. In both cases, the outcomes vary and are determined by the signal characteristics (type, magnitude, and duration), spatiotemporal parameters (where and when), and cellular capacity to respond (Gorgoulis et al., 2018). In the case of potentially damaging stress, damage is reversed and the structural and functional integrity of cells restored. Alternatively, damage can be irreversible, and cells activate death mechanisms mainly to restrict the impact on tissue degeneration. Between these extremes, cells can acquire other states, often associated with survival but also with permanent structural and functional changes. An example is the non-proliferative but viable state, distinct from G0 quiescence and terminal differentiation, termed cellular senescence (Rodier and Campisi, 2011). Formally described in 1961 by Hayflick and colleagues, cellular senescence, derived from the latin word senex meaning ''old'' (Hayflick and Moorhead, 1961), was originally observed in normal diploid cells that
SUMMARY Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by halting the growth of premalignant cells, yet the accumulation of senescent cells is thought to drive age-related pathology through a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), the function of which is unclear. To understand the physiological role(s) of the complex senescent phenotype, we generated a mouse model in which senescent cells can be visualized and eliminated in living animals. We show that senescent fibroblasts and endothelial cells appear very early in response to a cutaneous wound, where they accelerate wound closure by inducing myofibroblast differentiation through the secretion of platelet-derived growth factor AA (PDGF-AA). In two mouse models, topical treatment of senescence-free wounds with recombinant PDGF-AA rescued the delayed wound closure and lack of myofibroblast differentiation. These findings define a beneficial role for the SASP in tissue repair and help to explain why the SASP evolved.
Senescent cells (SCs) accumulate with age and after genotoxic stress, such as total-body irradiation (TBI)1–6. Clearance of SCs in a progeroid mouse model using a transgenic approach delays several age-associated disorders7, suggesting that SCs play a causative role in certain age-related pathologies. Thus, a ‘senolytic’ pharmacological agent that can selectively kill SCs holds promise for rejuvenating tissue stem cells and extending health span. To test this idea, we screened a collection of compounds and identified ABT263 (a specific inhibitor of the anti-apoptotic proteins BCL-2 and BCL-xL) as a potent senolytic drug. We show that ABT263 selectively kills SCs in culture in a cell type– and species-independent manner by inducing apoptosis. Oral administration of ABT263 to either sublethally irradiated or normally aged mice effectively depleted SCs, including senescent bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and senescent muscle stem cells (MuSCs). Notably, this depletion mitigated TBI-induced premature aging of the hematopoietic system and rejuvenated the aged HSCs and MuSCs in normally aged mice. Our results demonstrate that selective clearance of SCs by a pharmacological agent is beneficial in part through its rejuvenation of aged tissue stem cells. Thus, senolytic drugs may represent a new class of radiation mitigators and anti-aging agents.
Senescent cells (SnCs) accumulate in many vertebrate tissues with age and contribute to age-related pathologies1–3, presumably through their secretion of factors contributing to the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP)4–6. Removal of SnCs delays several pathologies7–9 and increases healthy lifespan8. Aging and trauma are risk factors for the development of osteoarthritis (OA)10, a chronic disease characterized by degeneration of articular cartilage leading to pain and physical disability. Senescent chondrocytes are found in cartilage tissue isolated from patients undergoing joint replacement surgery11–14, yet their role in disease pathogenesis is unknown. To test the idea that SnCs might play a causative role in OA, we used the p16-3MR transgenic mouse, which harbors a p16INK4a (Cdkn2a) promoter driving the expression of a fusion protein containing synthetic Renilla luciferase and monomeric red fluorescent protein domains, as well as a truncated form of herpes simplex virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSV-TK)15,16. This mouse strain allowed us to selectively follow and remove SnCs after anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT). We found that SnCs accumulated in the articular cartilage and synovium after ACLT, and selective elimination of these cells attenuated the development of post-traumatic OA, reduced pain and increased cartilage development. Intra-articular injection of a senolytic molecule that selectively killed SnCs validated these results in transgenic, non-transgenic and aged mice. Selective removal of the SnCs from in vitro cultures of chondrocytes isolated from patients with OA undergoing total knee replacement decreased expression of senescent and inflammatory markers while also increasing expression of cartilage tissue extracellular matrix proteins. Collectively, these findings support the use of SnCs as a therapeutic target for treating degenerative joint disease.
Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by irreversibly arresting cell proliferation. Senescent cells acquire a pro-inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Many genotoxic chemotherapies target proliferating cells non-specifically, often with adverse reactions. In accord with prior work, we show that several chemotherapeutic drugs induce senescence of primary murine and human cells. Using a transgenic mouse that permits tracking and eliminating senescent cells, we show that therapy-induced senescent (TIS) cells persist and contribute to local and systemic inflammation. Eliminating TIS cells reduced several short- and long-term effects of the drugs, including bone marrow suppression, cardiac dysfunction, cancer recurrence and physical activity and strength. Consistent with our findings in mice, the risk of chemotherapy-induced fatigue was significantly greater in humans with increased expression of a senescence marker in T-cells prior to chemotherapy. These findings suggest that senescent cells can cause certain chemotherapy side effects, providing a new target to reduce the toxicity of anti-cancer treatments.
The TOR (target of rapamycin) kinase limits longevity by poorly understood mechanisms. Rapamycin suppresses the mammalian TORC1 complex, which regulates translation, and extends lifespan in diverse species, including mice. We show that rapamycin selectively blunts the pro-inflammatory phenotype of senescent cells. Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by preventing cell proliferation. However, as senescent cells accumulate with age, the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) can disrupt tissues and contribute to age-related pathologies, including cancer. MTOR inhibition suppressed the secretion of inflammatory cytokines by senescent cells. Rapamycin reduced IL6 and other cytokine mRNA levels, but selectively suppressed translation of the membrane-bound cytokine IL1A. Reduced IL1A diminished NF-κB transcriptional activity, which controls much of the SASP; exogenous IL1A restored IL6 secretion to rapamycin-treated cells. Importantly, rapamycin suppressed the ability of senescent fibroblasts to stimulate prostate tumour growth in mice. Thus, rapamycin might ameliorate age-related pathologies, including late-life cancer, by suppressing senescence-associated inflammation.
Cellular senescence is a terminal stress-activated program controlled by the p53 and p16INK4a tumor suppressor proteins. A striking feature of senescence is the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), a pro-inflammatory response linked to tumor promotion and aging. We have identified the transcription factor GATA4 as a senescence and SASP regulator. GATA4 is stabilized in cells undergoing senescence and is required for the SASP. Normally, GATA4 is degraded by p62-mediated selective autophagy, but this regulation is suppressed during senescence, thereby stabilizing GATA4. GATA4 in turn activates the transcription factor NF-κB to initiate the SASP and facilitate senescence. GATA4 activation depends on the DNA damage response regulators ATM and ATR, but not on p53 or p16INK4a. GATA4 accumulates in multiple tissues, including the aging brain, and could contribute to aging and its associated inflammation.
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