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1.  p62/SQSTM1 at the interface of aging, autophagy, and disease 
Age  2014;36(3):9626.
Advanced age is characterized by increased incidence of many chronic, noninfectious diseases that impair the quality of living of the elderly and pose a major burden on the healthcare systems of developed countries. These diseases are characterized by impaired or altered function at the tissue and cellular level, which is a hallmark of the aging process. Age-related impairments are likely due to loss of homeostasis at the cellular level, which leads to the accumulation of dysfunctional organelles and damaged macromolecules, such as proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. Intriguingly, aging and age-related diseases can be delayed by modulating nutrient signaling pathways converging on the target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase, either by genetic or dietary intervention. TOR signaling influences aging through several potential mechanisms, such as autophagy, a degradation pathway that clears the dysfunctional organelles and damaged macromolecules that accumulate with aging. Autophagy substrates are targeted for degradation by associating with p62/SQSTM1, a multidomain protein that interacts with the autophagy machinery. p62/SQSTM1 is involved in several cellular processes, and its loss has been linked to accelerated aging and to age-related pathologies. In this review, we describe p62/SQSTM1, its role in autophagy and in signaling pathways, and its emerging role in aging and age-associated pathologies. Finally, we propose p62/SQSTM1 as a novel target for aging studies and age-extending interventions.
PMCID: PMC4082582  PMID: 24557832
Aging; Autophagy; Mitochondria; Senescence; p62
2.  Mice Producing Reduced Levels of Insulin-Like Growth Factor Type 1 Display an Increase in Maximum, but not Mean, Life Span 
Reduced signaling through the IGF type 1 (IGF-1) receptor increases life span in multiple invertebrate organisms. Studies on mammalian longevity suggest that reducing levels of IGF-1 may also increase life span. However, the data are conflicting and complicated by the physiology of the mammalian neuroendocrine system. We have performed life-span analysis on mice homozygous for an insertion in the Igf1 gene. These mice produce reduced levels of IGF-1 and display a phenotype consistent with a significant decrease in IGF-1. Life-span analysis was carried out at three independent locations. Although the life-span data varied between sites, the maximum life span of the IGF-1-deficient mice was significantly increased and age-specific mortality rates were reduced in the IGF-1-deficient mice; however, mean life span did not differ except at one site, where mean life span was increased in female IGF-1-deficient animals. Early life mortality was noted in one cohort of IGF-1-deficient mice. The results are consistent with a significant role for IGF-1 in the modulation of life span but contrast with the published life-span data for the hypopituitary Ames and Snell dwarf mice and growth hormone receptor null mice, indicating that a reduction in IGF-1 alone is insufficient to increase both mean and maximal life span in mice.
PMCID: PMC3968822  PMID: 23873963
IGF-1; Insulin; Metabolism; Obesity; Gluconeogenesis.
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC3440417  PMID: 22984612
4.  Relationship of spindle assembly checkpoint fidelity to species body mass, lifespan, and developmental rate 
Aging (Albany NY)  2011;3(12):1206-1212.
We have examined the tolerance of the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), as measured by the appearance of tetraploid cells in the presence of a microtubule inhibitor, in a series of primary cell strains derived from species with diverse lifespan and body size. We find that the integrity of the SAC varies among these species. There is a robust correlation between the integrity of the SAC and body size, but poor correlation with longevity and parameters of species development (i.e., time of female fertility, gestation length, and postnatal growth rate). The results suggest that fidelity of the SAC co-evolved more closely with the number of mitoses needed to reach adulthood than with species lifespan.
PMCID: PMC3273901  PMID: 22201071
tetraploid; mitosis; fibroblasts; mouse; human; stability; genome; lifespan; aging
5.  Activation of proteasome by insulin-like growth factor-I may enhance clearance of oxidized proteins in the brain 
The insulin-like growth factor type 1 (IGF-I) plays an important role in neuronal physiology. Reduced IGF-I levels are observed during aging and this decrease may be important to age-related changes in the brain. We studied the effects of IGF-I on total protein oxidation in brain tissues and in cell cultures. Our results indicate that in frontal cortex the level of oxidized proteins is significantly reduced in transgenic mice designed to overproduce IGF-I compared with wild-type animals. The frontal cortex of IGF-I-overproducing mice exhibited high chymotrypsin-like activity of the 20S and 26S proteasomes. The proteasome can also be activated in response to IGF-I in cell cultures. Kinetic studies revealed peak activation of the proteasome within 15 min following IGF-I stimulation. The effects of IGF-I on proteasome were not observed in R- cells lacking the IGF-I receptor. Experiments using specific kinase inhibitors suggested that activation of proteasome by IGF-I involves phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling. IGF-I also attenuated the increase in protein carbonyl content induced by proteasome inhibition. Thus, appropriate levels of IGF-I may be important for the elimination of oxidized proteins in the brain in a process mediated by activation of the proteasome.
PMCID: PMC2821674  PMID: 19896963
Insulin-like growth factor-I; Proteasome; Aging; Brain; Protein oxidation
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC2935370  PMID: 20830296
7.  The release of sympathetic neurotransmitters is impaired in aged rats after an inflammatory stimulus. A possible link between cytokine production and sympathetic transmission 
Mechanisms of ageing and development  2008;129(12):728-734.
Aging results in a general decline in the response to external insults, including acute inflammatory challenges. In young animals, the inflammatory response requires activation of the sympathetic system, including neurotransmitters such as ATP, and catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine). To test whether aging affects activation of this axis, and whether this in turn might affect cytokine release, we administered lipopolysaccharide (LPS) i.p. to adult, middle-aged and aged Fisher 344 rats (6, 15 and 23-month old, respectively) and evaluated the early (0–12 hours) serum levels of Neuropeptide-Y (NP-Y), ATP and vanillyl mandelic acid (VMA, as an indirect measurement of catecholamine levels). In addition, we evaluated the association between these factors and serum levels of the cytokines tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα)3 and interleukin-10 (IL-10). Induction of both ATP and NP-Y was markedly reduced in the serum of aged animals, when compared to their younger counterparts, while induction of VMA was not affected by age. In spite of these changes, serum levels of TNFα and IL-10 were strongly hyper induced and delayed in aged rats. The results suggest that during aging there is a dysregulation in sympathetic neurotransmitter regulatory mechanisms, and this might play a role in the impairment of the inflammatory response.
PMCID: PMC2650491  PMID: 18973771
8.  Proteasome Modulates Mitochondrial Function During Cellular Senescence 
Free radical biology & medicine  2007;44(3):403-414.
Proteasome plays fundamental roles in the removal of oxidized proteins and in the normal degradation of short-lived proteins. Previously we have provided evidences that the impairment in proteasome observed during the replicative senescence of human fibroblasts has significant effects on MAPK signaling, proliferation, life span, senescent phenotype and protein oxidative status. These studies have demonstrated that proteasome inhibition and replicative senescence caused accumulation of intracellular protein carbonyl content. In this study, we have investigated the mechanisms by which proteasome dysfunction modulates protein oxidation during cellular senescence. The results indicate that proteasome inhibition during replicative senescence have significant effects on the intra and extracellular ROS production in vitro. The data also show that ROS impaired the proteasome function, which is partially reversible by antioxidants. Increases in ROS after proteasome inhibition correlated with a significant negative effect on the activity of most mitochondrial electron transporters. We propose that failures in proteasome during cellular senescence lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, ROS production and oxidative stress. Furthermore, it is likely that changes in proteasome dynamics could generate a pro-oxidative condition at the immediate extracellular microenvironment that could cause tissue injury during aging, in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2779526  PMID: 17976388
Proteasome inhibition; ROS; oxidative stress; cellular senescence; mitochondria

Results 1-8 (8)