Cellular senescence is a biologically irreversible state of cell-growth arrest that occurs following either a replicative or an oncogenic stimulus. This phenomenon occurs as a response to the presence of premalignant cells and appears to be an important anticancer mechanism that keeps these transformed cells at bay. Many exogenous and endogenous triggers for senescence have been recognized to act via genomic or epigenomic pathways. The most common stimulus for senescence is progressive loss of telomeric DNA, which results in the loss of chromosomal stability and eventual unregulated growth and malignancy. Senescence is activated through an interaction between the p16 and p53 tumor-suppressor genes. Senescent cells can be identified in vitro because they express senescence-associated β-galactosidase, a marker of increased lysosomal activity. Cellular senescence plays an integral role in the prevention and development of both benign and malignant gastrointestinal diseases. The senescence cascade and the cell-cycle checkpoints that dictate the progression and maintenance of senescence are important in all types of gastrointestinal cancers, including pancreatic, liver, gastric, colon, and esophageal cancers. Understanding the pathogenic mechanisms involved in cellular senescence is important for the development of agents targeted toward the treatment of gastrointestinal tumors.
Cell aging; Gastrointestinal neoplasms; Aging; Gastrointestinal mucosa
Cellular senescence is a mechanism that induces an irreversible growth arrest in all somatic cells. Senescent cells are metabolically active but lack the capacity to replicate. Evolutionary theories suggest that cellular senescence is related to the organismal decline occurring in aging organisms. Also, such theories describe senescence as an antagonistically pleiotropic process that can have beneficial or detrimental effect on the organism. Cellular senescence is believed to be involved in the cellular changes observed as aging progresses. Accumulation of senescent cells appears to occur widely as the organism ages. Furthermore, senescence is a key element of the tumor suppressor pathways. Therefore, it is part of the natural barrier against the uncontrolled proliferation observed in cellular development of malignancies in multicellular organisms. Activation of the senescence process guarantees a limited number of cellular replications. The genetic network led by p53 is responsible for activation of senescence in response to DNA damage and genomic instability that could lead to cancer. A better comprehension of the genetic networks that control the cell cycle and induce senescence is important to analyze the association of senescence to longevity and diseases related to aging. For these reasons, experimental research both in vitro and in vivo aims to develop anticancer therapies based on senescence activation. The last decade of research on role and function of senescence in aging and cancer are discussed in this paper.
Aging; Neoplasms; Pleiotropy; Telomere; Genetic pathways
Cellular senescence is a normal biological process that is initiated in response to a range of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that functions to remove irreparable damage and therefore potentially harmful cells, from the proliferative pool. Senescence can therefore be thought of in beneficial terms as a tumour suppressor. In contrast to this, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that senescence is also associated with the disruption of the tissue microenvironment and development of a pro-oncogenic environment, principally via the secretion of senescence-associated pro-inflammatory factors. The fraction of cells in a senescent state is known to increase with cellular age and from exposure to various stressors including ionising radiation therefore, the implications of the detrimental effects of the senescent phenotype are important to understand within the context of the increasing human exposure to ionising radiation. This review will discuss what is currently understood about senescence, highlighting possible associations between senescence and cancer and, how exposure to ionising radiation may modify this.
Ionising radiation; premature senescence; SASP; inflammation; age-related pathologies
Cellular senescence is a major barrier to tumour progression, though its role in pathogenesis of cancer and other diseases is poorly understood in vivo. Improved understanding of the degree to which latent senescence signalling persists in tumours might identify intervention strategies to provoke "accelerated senescence" responses as a therapeutic outcome. Senescence involves convergence of multiple pathways and requires ongoing dynamic signalling throughout its establishment and maintenance. Recent discovery of several new markers allows for an expression profiling approach to study specific senescence phenotypes in relevant tissue samples. We adopted a "senescence scoring" methodology based on expression profiles of multiple senescence markers to examine the degree to which signals of damage-associated or secretory senescence persist in various human tumours.
We first show that scoring captures differential induction of damage or inflammatory pathways in a series of public datasets involving radiotherapy of colon adenocarcinoma, chemotherapy of breast cancer cells, replicative senescence of mesenchymal stem cells, and progression of melanoma. We extended these results to investigate correlations between senescence score and growth inhibition in response to ~1500 compounds in the NCI60 panel. Scoring of our own mesenchymal tumour dataset highlighted differential expression of secretory signalling pathways between distinct subgroups of MPNST, liposarcomas and peritoneal mesothelioma. Furthermore, a pro-inflammatory signature yielded by hierarchical clustering of secretory markers showed prognostic significance in mesothelioma.
We find that "senescence scoring" accurately reports senescence signalling in a variety of situations where senescence would be expected to occur and highlights differential expression of damage associated and secretory senescence pathways in a context-dependent manner.
The retinoblastoma (Rb) tumor suppressor gene product, pRb, has an established role in the implementation of cellular senescence, the state of irreversible G1 cell cycle arrest provoked by diverse oncogenic stresses. In murine cells, senescence cell cycle arrest can be reversed by subsequent inactivation of pRb, indicating that pRb is required not only for the onset of cellular senescence, but also for the maintenance of senescence program in murine cells. However, in human cells, once pRb is fully activated by p16INK4a, senescence cell cycle arrest becomes irreversible and is no longer revoked by subsequent inactivation of pRb, suggesting that p16INK4a/Rb-pathway activates an alternative mechanism to irreversibly block the cell cycle in human senescent cells. Here, we discuss the molecular mechanism underlying the irreversibility of senescence cell cycle arrest and its potential towards tumor suppression.
Irreversible cell growth arrest, a process termed cellular senescence, is emerging as an intrinsic tumor suppressive mechanism. Oncogene-induced senescence is thought to be invariably preceded by hyperproliferation, aberrant replication, and activation of a DNA damage checkpoint response (DDR), rendering therapeutic enhancement of this process unsuitable for cancer treatment. We previously demonstrated in a mouse model of prostate cancer that inactivation of the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (Pten) elicits a senescence response that opposes tumorigenesis. Here, we show that Pten-loss–induced cellular senescence (PICS) represents a senescence response that is distinct from oncogene-induced senescence and can be targeted for cancer therapy. Using mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we determined that PICS occurs rapidly after Pten inactivation, in the absence of cellular proliferation and DDR. Further, we found that PICS is associated with enhanced p53 translation. Consistent with these data, we showed that in mice p53-stabilizing drugs potentiated PICS and its tumor suppressive potential. Importantly, we demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of PTEN drives senescence and inhibits tumorigenesis in vivo in a human xenograft model of prostate cancer. Taken together, our data identify a type of cellular senescence that can be triggered in nonproliferating cells in the absence of DNA damage, which we believe will be useful for developing a “pro-senescence” approach for cancer prevention and therapy.
Due to an increasing life expectance, osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the most common chronic diseases. Although strong efforts have been made to regenerate degenerated joint cartilage, OA is a progressive and irreversible disease up to date. Among other factors the dysbalance between free radical burden and cellular scavenging mechanisms defined as oxidative stress is a relevant part of OA pathogenesis. Here, only little data are available about the mediation and interaction between different joint compartments. The article provides a review of the current literature regarding the influence of oxidative stress on cellular aging, senescence and apoptosis in different joint compartments (cartilage, synovial tissue and subchondral bone). Free radical exposure is known to promote cellular senescence and apoptosis. Radical oxygen species (ROS) involvement in inflammation, fibrosis control and pain nociception has been proven. The data from literature indicates a link between free radical burden and OA pathogenesis mediating local tissue reactions between the joint compartments. Hence, oxidative stress is likely not only to promote cartilage destruction but also to be involved in inflammative transformation, promoting the transition from clinically silent cartilage destruction to apparent OA. ROS induced by exogenous factors such as overload, trauma, local intraarticular lesion and consecutive synovial inflammation cause cartilage degradation. In the affected joint, free radicals mediate disease progression. The interrelationship between oxidative stress and OA etiology might provide a novel approach to the comprehension and therefore modification of disease progression and symptom control.
osteoarthritis; free radicals; oxidative damage.
The notion that there might be a cellular basis for aging stems from research that began several decades ago and was proposed to explain the loss of proliferative homeostasis, which is a hallmark of complex animals. Recent years have seen growing support for the idea that two cell fates—apoptosis and cellular senescence, both now well-established tumor suppressor mechanisms—may be important drivers of aging phenotypes and age-related disease. However, there remain many unanswered questions, some quite basic, about how these processes change with age and how they might contribute to aging. It is now clear that failures in apoptosis or senescence can result in hyperproliferative diseases such as cancer. Less is known about whether and how increased apoptosis or senescence can cause tissue degeneration and aging. In addition, there is now a growing recognition that cellular senescence can have cell-nonautonomous effects within tissues. New molecular tools and model organisms, some already on the horizon, will need to be developed to better understand the roles of apoptosis and cellular senescence in age-associated changes in proliferative homeostasis.
Proliferative homeostasis; Aging
Primary isolates of chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells are often insufficient for cell-based autologous grafting procedures, necessitating in vitro expansion of cell populations. However, the potential for expansion is limited by cellular senescence, a form of irreversible cell cycle arrest regulated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic mechanisms common to most somatic cells enforce senescence at the so-called "Hayflick limit" of 60 population doublings. Termed "replicative senescence", this mechanism prevents cellular immortalization and suppresses oncogenesis. Although it is possible to overcome the Hayflick limit by genetically modifying cells, such manipulations are regarded as prohibitively dangerous in the context of tissue engineering. On the other hand, senescence associated with extrinsic factors, often called "stress-induced" senescence, can be avoided simply by modifying culture conditions. Because stress-induced senescence is "premature" in the sense that it can halt growth well before the Hayflick limit is reached, growth potential can be significantly enhanced by minimizing culture related stress. Standard culture techniques were originally developed to optimize the growth of fibroblasts but these conditions are inherently stressful to many other cell types. In particular, the 21% oxygen levels used in standard incubators, though well tolerated by fibroblasts, appear to induce oxidative stress in other cells. We reasoned that chondrocytes and MSCs, which are adapted to relatively low oxygen levels in vivo, might be sensitive to this form of stress. To test this hypothesis we compared the growth of MSC and chondrocyte strains in 21% and 5% oxygen. We found that incubation in 21% oxygen significantly attenuated growth and was associated with increased oxidant production. These findings indicated that sub-optimal standard culture conditions sharply limited the expansion of MSC and chondrocyte populations and suggest that cultures for grafting purposes should be maintained in a low-oxygen environment.
Cellular senescence, which is associated with aging, is a process by which cells enter a state of permanent cell cycle arrest, therefore constituting a potent tumor suppressive mechanism. Recent studies show that, despite the beneficial effects of cellular senescence, senescent cells can also exert harmful effects on the tissue microenvironment. The most significant of these effects is the acquisition of a senescent-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which entails a striking increase in the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Here, we summarize our knowledge of the SASP and the impact it has on tissue microenvironments and ability to stimulate tumor progression.
Aging; Senescence; Cancer; Inflammation; Cytokines; Interleukins; Proliferation; Invasion; Migration
Advanced age is the main risk factor for most chronic diseases and functional deficits in humans, but the fundamental mechanisms that drive ageing remain largely unknown, impeding the development of interventions that might delay or prevent age-related disorders and maximize healthy lifespan. Cellular senescence, which halts the proliferation of damaged or dysfunctional cells, is an important mechanism to constrain the malignant progression of tumour cells1,2. Senescent cells accumulate in various tissues and organs with ageing3 and have been hypothesized to disrupt tissue structure and function because of the components they secrete4,5. However, whether senescent cells are causally implicated in age-related dysfunction and whether their removal is beneficial has remained unknown. To address these fundamental questions, we made use of a biomarker for senescence, p16Ink4a, to design a novel transgene, INK-ATTAC, for inducible elimination of p16Ink4a-positive senescent cells upon administration of a drug. Here we show that in the BubR1 progeroid mouse background, INK-ATTAC removes p16Ink4a-positive senescent cells upon drug treatment. In tissues—such as adipose tissue, skeletal muscle and eye—in which p16Ink4a contributes to the acquisition of age-related pathologies, life-long removal of p16Ink4a-expressing cells delayed onset of these phenotypes. Furthermore, late-life clearance attenuated progression of already established age-related disorders. These data indicate that cellular senescence is causally implicated in generating age-related phenotypes and that removal of senescent cells can prevent or delay tissue dysfunction and extend healthspan.
Although melanoma ultimately progresses to a highly aggressive and metastatic disease that is typically resistant to currently available therapy, it often begins as a benign nevus consisting of a clonal population of hyperplastic melanocytes that cannot progress because they are locked in a state of cellular senescence. Once senescence is overcome, the nevus can exhibit dysplastic features and readily progress to more lethal stages. Recent advances have convincingly demonstrated that senescence represents a true barrier to the progression of many types of cancer, including melanoma. Thus, understanding the mechanism(s) by which melanoma evades senescence has become a priority in the melanoma research community. Senescence in most cells is regulated through some combination of activities within the RB and p53 pathways. However, differences discovered among various tumor types, some subtle and others quite profound, have revealed that senescence frequently operates in a context-dependent manner. Here we review what is known about melanocyte senescence, and how such knowledge may provide a much-needed edge in our struggles to contain or perhaps vanquish this often-fatal malignancy.
The mechanisms responsible for the progressive malfunction of the trabecular meshwork (TM)–Schlemm’s canal (SC) conventional outflow pathway tissue in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG) are still not fully understood. To determine whether POAG is characterized by an accumulation of senescent cells, similar to what has been described in other diseases, we have compared the levels of the senescence marker senescence-associated-β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) in the outflow pathway cells of POAG and age-matched control donors. POAG donors demonstrated a statistically significant fourfold increase in the percentage of SA-β-gal positive cells. These results suggest a potential role for cellular senescence in the pathophysiology of the outflow pathway.
Trabecular meshwork; Senescence; POAG; Glaucoma; Senescence-associated-β-galactosidase
Cellular senescence is an irreversible growth arrest and is presumed to be a natural barrier to tumor development. Like telomere shortening, certain defects in chromosome integrity can trigger senescence; however, the roles of centromere proteins in regulating commitment to the senescent state remains to be established. We examined chromatin structure in senescent human primary fibroblasts and found that CENP-A protein levels are diminished in senescent cells. Senescence-associated reduction of CENP-A is caused by transcriptional and posttranslational control. Surprisingly, forced reduction of CENP-A by short-hairpin RNA was found to cause premature senescence in human primary fibroblasts. This premature senescence is dependent on a tumor suppressor, p53, but not on p16INK4a-Rb; the depletion of CENP-A in p53-deficient cells results in aberrant mitosis with chromosome missegregation. We propose that p53-dependent senescence that arises from CENP-A reduction acts as a “self-defense mechanism” to prevent centromere-defective cells from undergoing mitotic proliferation that potentially leads to massive generation of aneuploid cells.
Cellular senescence is an irreversible cell cycle arrest that normal cells undergo in response to progressive shortening of telomeres, changes in telomeric structure, oncogene activation or oxidative stress and acts as an important tumour suppressor mechanism.
To identify the downstream effectors of the p53-p21 and p16-pRB tumour suppressor pathways crucial for mediating entry into senescence, we have carried out a loss-of-function RNA interference screen in conditionally immortalised human fibroblasts that can be induced to rapidly undergo senescence, whereas in primary cultures senescence is stochastic and occurs asynchronously. These cells are immortal but undergo a rapid irreversible arrest upon activation of the p53-p21 and p16-pRB pathways that can be readily bypassed upon their inactivation. The primary screen identified 112 known genes including p53 and another 29 shRNAmirs targetting as yet unidentified loci. Comparison of these known targets with genes known to be up-regulated upon senescence in these cells, by micro-array expression profiling, identified 4 common genes TMEM9B, ATXN10, LAYN and LTBP2/3. Direct silencing of these common genes, using lentiviral shRNAmirs, bypassed senescence in the conditionally immortalised cells.
The senescence bypass screen identified TMEM9B, ATXN10, LAYN and LTBP2/3 as novel downstream effectors of the p53-p21 and p16-pRB tumour suppressor pathways. Although none of them has previously been linked to cellular senescence, TMEM9B has been suggested to be an upstream activator of NF-κB signalling which has been found to have a causal role in promoting senescence. Future studies will focus on determining on how many of the other primary hits also have a casual role in senescence and what is the mechanism of action.
Cellular senescence; RNA interference screen; senescence bypass; conditionally immortal cells
The definition of an oncogene is a gene that actively promotes tumorigenesis. For example, activation of RAS oncogene promotes cell transformation and cancer. Paradoxically, in primary mammalian cells, oncogenic RAS typically triggers cellular senescence, a state of irreversible cell growth arrest. Oncogene-induced senescence is an important tumor suppression mechanism in vivo. Here, we discuss our recent evidence that RAS-induced suppression of DNA repair response via dissociation of BRCA1 from chromatin promotes senescence while predisposing cells to senescence bypass and transformation by allowing for secondary hits. The molecular mechanism we uncovered helps reconcile the tumor-promoting nature of oncogenic RAS with the tumor-suppressing role of oncogene-induced senescence.
B-Myb; BRCA1; BRIP1; DNA damage; Ras; cell transformation; cellular senescence; oncogene
Cellular senescence is characterized by an irreversible cell cycle arrest that, when bypassed by mutation, contributes to cellular immortalization. Activated oncogenes induce a hyperproliferative response, which might be one of the senescence cues. We have found that expression of such an oncogene, Akt, causes senescence in primary mouse hepatoblasts in vitro. Additionally, AKT-driven tumors undergo senescence in vivo following p53 reactivation and show signs of differentiation. In another in vivo system, i.e., liver fibrosis, hyperproliferative signaling through AKT might be a driving force of the senescence in activated hepatic stellate cells. Senescent cells up-regulate and secrete molecules that, on the one hand, can reinforce the arrest and, on the other hand, can signal to an innate immune system to clear the senescent cells. The mechanisms governing senescence and immortalization are overlapping with those regulating self-renewal and differentiation. These respective control mechanisms, or their disregulation, are involved in multiple pathological conditions including fibrosis, wound healing, and cancer. Understanding extracellular cues that regulate these processes may enable new therapies for these conditions.
Classic mechanisms of tumor response to chemotherapy include apoptosis and mitotic catastrophe. Recent studies have suggested that cellular senescence, a terminal proliferationarrest seen in vitro, may be invoked during the exposure of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents. To identify markers associated specifically with the cellular senescence phenotype, we utilized expression data from cDNA microarray experiments identifying transcripts whose expression levels increased as human prostate epithelial cells progressed to senescence. When screened against other growth-inhibitory conditions, including quiescence and apoptosis, many of these transcripts were also upregulated, indicating that similar pathways occur between apoptosis and senescence. A senescent-like phenotype was then induced in several prostate cancer cell lines using 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine, doxorubicin, or Docetaxel. Treatment with these agents resulted in a significant increase in the induction of senescence-specific genes when compared to nonsenescent conditions. The performance of the panel was improved with fluorescence-activated cell sorting using PKH26 to isolate nonproliferating, viable, drug-treated populations, indicating that a heterogeneous response occurs with chemotherapy. We have defined an RNA-based gene panel that characterizes the senescent phenotype induced in cancer cells by drug treatment. These data also indicate that a panel of genes, rather than one marker, needs to be utilized to identify senescence.
Senescence; cancer; differentiation; cancer therapy; prostate
Melanomas and nevi share many of the same growth-promoting mutations. However, melanomas grow relentlessly while benign nevi eventually undergo growth arrest and stabilize. The difference in their long-term growth potential may be attributed to activation of cellular senescence pathways. The primary mediator of senescence in nevi appears to be p16. Redundant, secondary senescence systems are also present and include the p14-p53-p21 pathway, the IGFBP7 pathway, the FBXO31 pathway, and the PI3K mediated stress induced endoplasmic reticulum unfolded protein response. It is evident that these senescence pathways result in an irreversible arrest in most instances; however, they can clearly be overcome in melanoma. Circumvention of these pathways is most frequently associated with gene deletion or transcriptional repression. Reactivation of senescence mechanisms could serve to inhibit melanoma tumor progression.
This study aims at highlighting the common signature between cartilaginous tissue in osteoarthritis (OA) and preneoplasic tissues preceding neoplasia and tumour formation and, second, focusing on the molecular mechanisms at the aetiology of both pathologies.
Because age is the highest risk factor common for both OA and cancer development, it is tempting to compare the molecular mechanisms occurring at the onset of OA and preneoplasic lesions. Indeed, cellular senescence seems to be a common characteristic. Cellular senescence represents a natural barrier to suppress the unscheduled proliferation of damaged cells acting as a strong tumour suppressor pathway and in OA, it also occurs prematurely in chondrocytes. In this study, we review a number of molecular factors associated with the senescent phenotype.
Whereas accumulation of senescent cells in preneoplasic-like lesions leads to tissue degeneration and potentially tumour development; in OA, senescent cells accumulate in a slowly proliferative tissue. This is likely contributing at reducing the risk of cell transformation.
Senescence; aging; chondrocytes; osteoarthritis; neoplasia.
Despite the high prevalence of pituitary adenomas they are invariably benign, indicative of unique intrinsic mechanisms controlling pituitary cell proliferation. Cellular senescence is characterized by a largely irreversible cell cycle arrest and constitutes a strong anti-proliferative response, which can be triggered by DNA damage, chromosomal instability and aneuploidy, loss of tumor suppressive signaling or oncogene activation. In vivo senescence is an important protective mechanisms against cancer. Here we discuss prospective mechanisms underlying senescence-associated molecular pathways activated in benign pituitary adenomas. Both deletion and overexpression of pituitary tumor transforming gene (Pttg) promote chromosomal instability and aneuploidy. Pttg deletion abrogates tumor development by activating p53/p21-dependent senescence pathways. Abundant PTTG in GH-secreting pituitary adenomas also triggers p21-dependent senescence. Pituitary p21 may therefore safeguard against further chromosomal instability by constraining pituitary tumor growth. These observations point to senescence as a target for effective therapy for both tumor silencing and growth restraint towards development of pituitary malignancy
We describe the basic tenets of the current concepts of cancer biology, and review the recent advances on the suppressor role of senescence in tumor growth and the breakdown of this barrier during the origin of tumor growth. Senescence phenotype can be induced by (1) telomere attrition-induced senescence at the end of the cellular mitotic life span (MLS*) and (2) also by replication history-independent, accelerated senescence due to inadvertent activation of oncogenes or by exposure of cells to genotoxins. Tumor suppressor genes p53/pRB/p16INK4A and related senescence checkpoints are involved in effecting the onset of senescence. However, senescence as a tumor suppressor mechanism is a leaky process and senescent cells with mutations or epimutations in these genes escape mitotic catastrophe-induced cell death by becoming polyploid cells. These polyploid giant cells, before they die, give rise to several cells with viable genomes via nuclear budding and asymmetric cytokinesis. This mode of cell division has been termed neosis and the immediate neotic offspring the Raju cells. The latter inherit genomic instability and transiently display stem cell properties in that they differentiate into tumor cells and display extended, but, limited MLS, at the end of which they enter senescent phase and can undergo secondary/tertiary neosis to produce the next generation of Raju cells. Neosis is repeated several times during tumor growth in a non-synchronized fashion, is the mode of origin of resistant tumor growth and contributes to tumor cell heterogeneity and continuity. The main event during neosis appears to be the production of mitotically viable daughter genome after epigenetic modulation from the non-viable polyploid genome of neosis mother cell (NMC). This leads to the growth of resistant tumor cells. Since during neosis, spindle checkpoint is not activated, this may give rise to aneuploidy. Thus, tumor cells also are destined to die due to senescence, but may escape senescence due to mutations or epimutations in the senescent checkpoint pathway. A historical review of neosis-like events is presented and implications of neosis in relation to the current dogmas of cancer biology are discussed. Genesis and repetitive re-genesis of Raju cells with transient "stemness" via neosis are of vital importance to the origin and continuous growth of tumors, a process that appears to be common to all types of tumors. We suggest that unlike current anti-mitotic therapy of cancers, anti-neotic therapy would not cause undesirable side effects. We propose a rational hypothesis for the origin and progression of tumors in which neosis plays a major role in the multistep carcinogenesis in different types of cancers. We define cancers as a single disease of uncontrolled neosis due to failure of senescent checkpoint controls.
Cellular senescence, which can be induced by various stimuli, is a stress response that manifests as irreversible cell cycle arrest. Recent studies have revealed that cellular senescence can serve as a critical barrier for cancer development. Induction of cellular senescence by oncogenic insults, such as Ras over-expression or by inactivation of PTEN tumor suppressor, triggers an ARF/p53-dependent tumor-suppressive effect which can significantly restrict cancer progression. Given the important role of the ARF/p53 pathway in cellular senescence and tumor suppression, drugs that stabilize p53 expression have been developed and tested in clinical trials. However, a major hurdle for p53 targeting in cancer treatment arises from the frequent deficiency or mutation of ARF or p53 in human cancers, which, in turn, profoundly compromises their tumor-suppressive ability. Recent discoveries of novel regulators involved in ARF/p53-independent cellular senescence not only reveal novel paradigms for cellular senescence but also provide alternative approaches for cancer therapy.
Skp2; p53; Cellular senescence; Cancer therapy
Primary human fibroblasts in tissue culture undergo a limited number of cell divisions before entering a non-replicative “senescent” state. At early population doublings (PD), fibroblasts are proliferation-competent displaying exponential growth. During further cell passaging, an increasing number of cells become cell cycle arrested and finally senescent. This transition from proliferating to senescent cells is driven by a number of endogenous and exogenous stress factors. Here, we have developed a new quantitative model for the stepwise transition from proliferating human fibroblasts (P) via reversibly cell cycle arrested (C) to irreversibly arrested senescent cells (S). In this model, the transition from P to C and to S is driven by a stress function γ and a cellular stress response function F which describes the time-delayed cellular response to experimentally induced irradiation stress. The application of this model based on senescence marker quantification at the single-cell level allowed to discriminate between the cellular states P, C, and S and delivers the transition rates between the P, C and S states for different human fibroblast cell types. Model-derived quantification unexpectedly revealed significant differences in the stress response of different fibroblast cell lines. Evaluating marker specificity, we found that SA-β-Gal is a good quantitative marker for cellular senescence in WI-38 and BJ cells, however much less so in MRC-5 cells. Furthermore we found that WI-38 cells are more sensitive to stress than BJ and MRC-5 cells. Thus, the explicit separation of stress induction from the cellular stress response, and the differentiation between three cellular states P, C and S allows for the first time to quantitatively assess the response of primary human fibroblasts towards endogenous and exogenous stress during cellular ageing.
Cellular senescence is a response to nonlethal stress that results in persistent cytostasis with a distinct morphological and biochemical phenotype. The senescence phenotype, detected in tumors through the expression of mRNA and protein markers, can be generated in cancer cells lacking functional p53 and retinoblastoma protein. Current research suggests that therapy-induced senescence (TIS) represents a novel functional target that may improve cancer therapy. TIS can be induced in immortal and transformed cancer cells by selected anticancer compounds or radiation, and accumulating data indicate that TIS may produce reduced toxicity-related side effects and increased tumor-specific immune activity. This review examines the current status of TIS-regulated mechanisms, agents, and senescence biomarkers with the goal of encouraging further development of this approach to cancer therapy. Remaining hurdles include the lack of efficient senescence-inducing agents and incomplete biological data on tumor response. The identification of additional compounds and other targeted approaches to senescence induction will further the development of TIS in the clinical treatment of cancer.