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1.  Astrocyte Senescence as a Component of Alzheimer’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45069.
Aging is the main risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD); however, the aspects of the aging process that predispose the brain to the development of AD are largely unknown. Astrocytes perform a myriad of functions in the central nervous system to maintain homeostasis and support neuronal function. In vitro, human astrocytes are highly sensitive to oxidative stress and trigger a senescence program when faced with multiple types of stress. In order to determine whether senescent astrocytes appear in vivo, brain tissue from aged individuals and patients with AD was examined for the presence of senescent astrocytes using p16INK4a and matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) expression as markers of senescence. Compared with fetal tissue samples (n = 4), a significant increase in p16INK4a-positive astrocytes was observed in subjects aged 35 to 50 years (n = 6; P = 0.02) and 78 to 90 years (n = 11; P<10−6). In addition, the frontal cortex of AD patients (n = 15) harbored a significantly greater burden of p16INK4a-positive astrocytes compared with non-AD adult control subjects of similar ages (n = 25; P = 0.02) and fetal controls (n = 4; P<10−7). Consistent with the senescent nature of the p16INK4a-positive astrocytes, increased metalloproteinase MMP-1 correlated with p16INK4a. In vitro, beta-amyloid 1–42 (Aβ1–42) triggered senescence, driving the expression of p16INK4a and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase. In addition, we found that senescent astrocytes produce a number of inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-6 (IL-6), which seems to be regulated by p38MAPK. We propose that an accumulation of p16INK4a-positive senescent astrocytes may link increased age and increased risk for sporadic AD.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045069
PMCID: PMC3440417  PMID: 22984612
2.  Long-Term IGF-I Exposure Decreases Autophagy and Cell Viability 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12592.
A reduction in IGF-I signaling has been found to increase lifespan in multiple organisms despite the fact that IGF-I is a trophic factor for many cell types and has been found to have protective effects against multiple forms of damage in acute settings. The increase in longevity seen in response to reduced IGF-I signaling suggests that there may be differences between the acute and chronic impact of IGF-I signaling. We have examined the possibility that long-term stimulation with IGF-I may have a negative impact at the cellular level using quiescent human fibroblasts. We find that fibroblast cells exposed to IGF-I for 14 days have reduced long-term viability as judged by colony forming assays, which is accompanied by an accumulation of senescent cells. In addition we observe an accumulation of cells with depolarized mitochondria and a reduction in autophagy in the long-term IGF-I treated cultures. An examination of mice with reduced IGF-I levels reveals evidence of enhanced autophagy and fibroblast cells derived from these mice have a larger mitochondrial mass relative to controls indicating that changes in mitochondrial turnover occurs in animals with reduced IGF-I. The results indicate that chronic IGF-I stimulation leads to mitochondrial dysfunction and reduced cell viability.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012592
PMCID: PMC2935370  PMID: 20830296
3.  Proepithelin is an autocrine growth factor for bladder cancer 
Carcinogenesis  2009;30(5):861-868.
The growth factor proepithelin functions as an important regulator of proliferation and motility. Proepithelin is overexpressed in a great variety of cancer cell lines and clinical specimens of breast, ovarian and renal cancer, as well as glioblastomas. Using recombinant proepithelin on 5637 transitional cell carcinoma-derived cells, we have shown previously that proepithelin plays a critical role in bladder cancer by promoting motility of bladder cancer cells. In this study, we used the ONCOMINE database and gene microarray analysis tool to analyze proepithelin expression in several bladder cancer microarray studies. We found a statistically significant increase in proepithelin messenger RNA expression in bladder cancers vis-à-vis non-neoplastic tissues, and this was associated with pathologic and prognostic parameters. Targeted downregulation of proepithelin in T24 transitional carcinoma cells with small hairpin RNA inhibited both Akt and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, severely reduced the ability of T24 cells to proliferate in the absence of serum and inhibited migration, invasion and wound healing. In support of these in vitro results, we discovered that proepithelin expression was significantly upregulated in invasive bladder cancer tissues compared with normal urothelium. In addition, proepithelin was secreted in the urine, where it was detectable by immunoblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Collectively, these results support the hypothesis that proepithelin may play a critical role as an autocrine growth factor in the establishment and progression of bladder cancer and suggest that proepithelin may prove a novel biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of bladder neoplasms.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgp050
PMCID: PMC2675649  PMID: 19237611

Results 1-3 (3)