Sphingomyelin metabolism has been linked to several diseases and to longevity. However, few epidemiological studies have quantified individual plasma sphingomyelin species (identified by acyl-chain length and saturation) or their relationship between demographic factors and disease processes. In this study, we determined plasma concentrations of distinct sphingomyelin species in 992 individuals, aged 55 and older, enrolled in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Participants were followed, with serial measures, up to 6 visits and 38 years (3972 total samples). Quantitative analyses were performed on a high-performance liquid chromatography-coupled electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometer. Linear mixed models were used to assess variation in specific sphingomyelin species and associations with demographics, diseases, medications or lifestyle factors, and plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels. We found that most sphingomyelin species increased with age. Women had higher plasma levels of all sphingomyelin species and showed steeper trajectories of age-related increases compared to men. African Americans also showed higher circulating sphingomyelin concentrations compared to Caucasians. Diabetes, smoking, and plasma triglycerides were associated with lower levels of many sphingomyelins and dihydrosphingomyelins. Notably, these associations showed specificity to sphingomyelin acyl-chain length and saturation. These results demonstrate that longitudinal changes in circulating sphingomyelin levels are influenced by age, sex, race, lifestyle factors, and diseases. It will be important to further establish the intra-individual age- and sex-specific changes in each sphingomyelin species in relation to disease onset and progression.
aging; sphingomyelin; dihydrosphingomyelin; human; longitudinal; sex differences
Cellular senescence is a process that results from a variety of stresses, leading to a state of irreversible growth arrest. Senescent cells accumulate during aging and have been implicated in promoting a variety of age-related diseases. Mitochondrial stress is an effective inducer of cellular senescence, but the mechanisms by which mitochondria regulate permanent cell growth arrest are largely unexplored. Here, we review some of the mitochondrial signaling pathways that participate in establishing cellular senescence. We discuss the role of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial dynamics (fission and fusion), the electron transport chain (ETC), bioenergetic balance, redox state, metabolic signature, and calcium homeostasis in controlling cellular growth arrest. We emphasize that multiple mitochondrial signaling pathways, besides mitochondrial ROS, can induce cellular senescence. Together, these pathways provide a broader perspective for studying the contribution of mitochondrial stress to aging, linking mitochondrial dysfunction and aging through the process of cellular senescence.
aging; bioenergetics; cellular senescence; electron transport chain; metabolism; mitochondria; NAD; reactive oxygen species
Although apolipoprotein E (APOE) variants are associated with age-related diseases, the underlying mechanism is unknown and DNA methylation may be a potential one. With methylation data, measured by the Infinium Human Methylation 450 array, from 993 participants (age ranging from 18 to 87 years) in the Genetics of Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network (GOLDN) study, and from Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) consortium, combined with published methylation datasets, we described the methylation pattern of 13 CpG sites within APOE locus, their correlations with gene expression across cell types, and their relationships with age, plasma lipids, and sequence variants. Based on methylation levels and the genetic regions, we categorized the 13 APOE CpG sites into three groups: Group 1 showed hypermethylation (> 50%) and were located in the promoter region, Group 2 exhibited hypomethylation (< 50%) and were located in the first two exons and introns, and Group 3 showed hypermethylation (> 50%) and were located in the exon 4. APOE methylation was negatively correlated with gene expression (minimum r = −0.66, P = 0.004). APOE methylation was significantly associated with age (minimum P = 2.06E-08) and plasma total cholesterol (minimum P = 3.53E-03). Finally, APOE methylation patterns differed across APOE ε variants (minimum P = 3.51E-05) and the promoter variant rs405509 (minimum P = 0.01), which further showed a significant interaction with age (P = 0.03). These findings suggest that methylation may be a potential mechanistic explanation for APOE functions related to aging and call for further molecular mechanistic studies.
apolipoprotein E; age; DNA methylation; variants; epidemiology; interaction
Cockayne Syndrome (CS) is a rare autosomal recessive segmental progeria characterized by growth failure, lipodystrophy, neurological abnormalities and photosensitivity but without skin cancer predisposition. CS life expectancy ranges from 5 to 16 years for the two most severe forms (Types II and I, respectively). Mouse models of CS have thus far been of limited value due either to very mild phenotypes, or premature death during postnatal development prior to weaning. The cause of death in severe CS models is unknown but has been attributed to extremely rapid aging. Here, we found that providing mutant pups with soft food from as late as postnatal day 14 allowed survival past weaning with high penetrance independent of dietary macronutrient balance in a novel CS model (Csa-/- ∣ Xpa-/-). Survival past weaning revealed a number of CS-like symptoms including small size, progressive loss of adiposity and neurological symptoms, with a maximum lifespan of 19 weeks. Our results caution against interpretation of death before weaning as premature aging, and at the same time provide a valuable new tool for understanding mechanisms of progressive CS-related progeroid symptoms including lipodystrophy and neurodysfunction.
DNA repair; Cockayne syndrome; CSA; XPA; segmental progeria; lifespan
This study examines the progress of a hypometabolic state inherent in brain aging with an animal model consisting of Fischer 344 rats of young, middle, and old ages. Dynamic microPET scanning demonstrated a significant decline in brain glucose uptake at old ages, which was associated with a decrease in the expression of insulin-sensitive neuronal glucose transporters GLUT3/4 and of microvascular endothelium GLUT1. Brain aging was associated with an imbalance of the PI3K/Akt pathway of insulin signaling and JNK signaling and a downregulation of the PGC1α – mediated transcriptional pathway of mitochondrial biogenesis that impinged on multiple aspects of energy homeostasis. R-(+)-lipoic acid treatment increased glucose uptake, restored the balance of Akt/JNK signaling, and enhanced mitochondrial bioenergetics and the PGC1α-driven mitochondrial biogenesis. It may be surmised that impairment of a mitochondria-cytosol-nucleus communication is underlying the progression of the age-related hypometabolic state in brain; the effects of lipoic acid are not organelle-limited but reside on the functional and effective coordination of this communication that results in improved energy metabolism.
Brain aging; Lipoic Acid; Mitochondria; Insulin signaling; JNK signaling; PGC1α; Sirt1; Mitochondrial Biogenesis; Mitochondrial Bioenergetics; FDG-PET; Mitochondrial Metabolism
Neurogenesis diminishes with aging and ischemia-induced neurogenesis also
occurs, but reduced in aged brain. Currently, the cellular and molecular
pathways mediating these effects remain largely unknown. Our previous study has
shown that Notch1 signaling regulates neurogenesis in subventricular zone (SVZ)
of young-adult brain after focal ischemia, but whether a similar effect occurs
in aged normal and ischemic animals is unknown. Here, we used normal and
ischemic aged rat brains to investigate whether Notch1 signaling was involved
in the reduction of neurogenesis in response to aging and modulates neurogenesis
in aged brains after focal ischemia. By Western blot, we found that Notch1 and
Jagged1 expression in the SVZ of aged brain was significantly reduced compared
with young-adult brain. Consistently, the activated form of Notch1(Notch
intracellular domain;NICD) expression was also declined. Immunohistochemistry
confirmed that expression and activation of Notch1 signaling in the SVZ of aged
brain were reduced. Double or triple immunostaining showed that that Notch1 was
mainly expressed in DCX-positive cells, whereas Jagged1 was predominantly
expressed in astroglial cells in the SVZ of normal aged rat brain. In addition,
disruption or activation of Notch1 signaling altered the number of proliferating
cells labeled by bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) and doublecortin (DCX) in the SVZ of
aged brain. Moreover, ischemia-induced cell proliferation in the SVZ of aged
brain was enhanced by activating the Notch1 pathway, and was suppressed by
inhibiting the Notch1 signaling. Reduced infarct volume and improved motor
deficits were also observed in Notch1 activator-treated aged ischemic rats. Our
data suggest that Notch1 signaling modulates the SVZ neurogenesis in aged brain
in normal and ischemic conditions.
Notch1 signaling pathway; aged rat brain; neurogenesis; focal cerebral ischemia
Tissue regeneration diminishes with age, concurrent with declining hormone levels including growth factors such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). We investigated the molecular basis for such decline in pancreatic β-cells where loss of proliferation occurs early in age, and is proposed to contribute to the pathogenesis of diabetes. We studied the regeneration capacity of β-cells in mouse model where PI3K/AKT pathway downstream of insulin/IGF-1 signaling, is upregulated by genetic deletion of Pten (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10) specifically in insulin producing cells. In this model, PTEN loss prevents the decline in proliferation capacity in aged β-cells and restores the ability of aged β-cells to respond to injury induced regeneration. Using several animal and cell models where we can manipulate PTEN expression, we found that PTEN blocks cell cycle reentry through a novel pathway leading to an increase of p16ink4a, a cell cycle inhibitor characterized for its role in cellular senescence/aging. A downregulation in p16ink4a occurs when PTEN is lost as a result of cyclin D1 induction and the activation of E2F transcription factors. The activation of E2F transcriptional factors leads to methylation of p16ink4a promoter, an event that is mediated by the upregulation of polycomb protein, Ezh2. These analyses establish a novel PTEN/cyclin D1/E2F/Ezh2/p16ink4a signaling network responsible for the aging process and provide specific evidence for a molecular paradigm that explain how decline of growth factor signals such as IGF-1 (through PTEN/PI3K signaling) may control regeneration and the lack thereof in aging cells.
PTEN; PI3K; p16ink4a; aging; β-cells
The processes that control aging remain poorly understood. We have exploited mutants in the nematode, C. elegans, that compromise mitochondrial function and scavenging of reactive oxygen species (ROS) to understand their relation to lifespan. We discovered unanticipated roles and interactions of the mitochondrial superoxide dismutases (mtSODs), SOD-2 and SOD-3. Both SODs localize to mitochondrial supercomplex I:III:IV. Loss of SOD-2 specifically: 1) decreases the activities of complexes I and II; complexes III, and IV remain normal, 2) increases the lifespan of animals with a complex I defect, but not the lifespan of animals with a complex II defect, and kills an animal with a complex III defect, 3) induces a presumed pro-inflammatory response. Knockdown of a molecule that may be a pro-inflammatory mediator very markedly extends lifespan and health of certain mitochondrial mutants. The relationship between the electron transport chain, ROS and lifespan is complex, and defects in mitochondrial function have specific interactions with ROS scavenging mechanisms. We conclude that mtSODs are embedded within the supercomplex I:III:IV, and stabilize or locally protect it from reactive oxygen species (ROS) damage. The results call for a change in the usual paradigm for the interaction of electron transport chain function, ROS release, scavenging and compensatory responses.
lifespan; superoxide dismutase; reactive oxygen species; electron transport chain; supercomplexes; heat shock protein
Dietary restriction (DR) increases lifespan and attenuates age-related phenotypes in many organisms; however, the effect of DR on longevity of individuals in genetically heterogeneous populations is not well characterized. Here we describe a large-scale effort to define molecular mechanisms that underlie genotype-specific responses to DR. The effect of DR on lifespan was determined for 166 single-gene deletion strains in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Resulting changes in mean lifespan ranged from a reduction of 79% to an increase of 103%. Vacuolar pH homeostasis, superoxide dismutase activity, and mitochondrial proteostasis were found to be strong determinants of the response to DR. Proteomic analysis of cells deficient in prohibitins revealed induction of a mitochondrial unfolded protein response (mtUPR) which has not previously been described in yeast. Mitochondrial proteotoxic stress in prohibitin mutants was suppressed by DR via reduced cytoplasmic mRNA translation. A similar relationship between prohibitins, the mtUPR, and longevity was also observed in Caenorhabditis elegans. These observations define conserved molecular processes that underlie genotype-dependent effects of DR that may be important modulators of DR in higher organisms.
aging; replicative lifespan; longevity; yeast; dietary restriction; mitochondria; mitochondrial unfolded protein response
Epidemiological studies in humans suggest that skeletal muscle aging is a risk factor for the development of several age-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Here we review recent studies in mammals and Drosophila highlighting how nutrient- and stress-sensing in skeletal muscle can influence lifespan and overall aging of the organism. In addition to exercise and indirect effects of muscle metabolism, growing evidence suggests that muscle-derived growth factors and cytokines, known as myokines, modulate systemic physiology. Myokines may influence the progression of age-related diseases and contribute to the inter-tissue communication that underlies systemic aging.
skeletal muscle aging; systemic aging; myokine signaling; exercise; inter-tissue communication during aging
12/15-Lipoxygenase (12/15LO) is a lipid-peroxidizing enzyme widely expressed in the central nervous system where it has been involved in the neurobiology of Alzheimer disease (AD) because it modulates Amyloid beta (Aβ) and APP processing. However, its biological effect on tau protein is unknown. We investigated the effect of 12/15LO on tau levels and metabolism in vivo and in vitro and the mechanism involved by using genetic and pharmacologic approaches. While no significant differences were observed in the levels of total tau for both groups, compared with controls, Tg2576 mice over-expressing 12/15LO had elevated levels of phosphorylated tau at two specific epitopes, Ser 202/Thr 205 and Ser 396. In vitro and in vivo studies show that 12/15LO modulates tau metabolism specifically via the cdk5 kinase pathway. Associated with these changes were biochemical markers of synaptic pathology. Finally, 12/15-LO-dependent alteration of tau metabolism was independent from an effect on Aβ. Our findings reveal a novel pathway by which 12/15LO modulates endogenous tau metabolism making this protein an appealing pharmacologic target for treatment of AD and related tauopathies.
SIRT1 is an NAD+-dependent deacetylase that is implicated in prevention of many age-related diseases including metabolic disorders. Since SIRT1 deacetylase activity is dependent on NAD+ levels and the development of compounds that directly activate SIRT1 has been controversial, indirectly activating SIRT1 through enhancing NAD+ bioavailability has received increasing attention. NAD+ levels are reduced in obesity and the aged, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We recently showed that hepatic microRNA-34a (miR-34a), which is elevated in obesity, directly targets and decreases SIRT1 expression. Here we further show that miR-34a reduces NAD+ levels and SIRT1 activity by targeting NAMPT, the rate-limiting enzyme for NAD+ biosynthesis. A functional binding site for miR-34a is present in the 3′ UTR of NAMPT mRNA. Hepatic overexpression of miR-34a reduced NAMPT/NAD+ levels, increased acetylation of the SIRT1 target transcriptional regulators, PGC-1α, SREBP-1c, FXR, and NF-κB, and resulted in obesity-mimetic outcomes. The decreased NAMPT/NAD+ levels were independent of miR-34a effects on SIRT1 levels since they were also observed in SIRT1 liver-specific knockout mice. Further, the miR-34a-mediated decreases were reversed by treatment with the NAD+ intermediate, nicotinamide mononucleotide. Conversely, antagonism of miR-34a in diet-induced obese mice restored NAMPT/NAD+ levels and alleviated steatosis, inflammation, and glucose intolerance. Anti-miR-34a-mediated increases in NAD+ levels were attenuated when NAMPT was downregulated. Our findings reveal a novel function of miR-34a in reducing both SIRT1 expression and activity in obesity. The miR-34a/NAMPT axis presents a potential target for treating obesity- and aging-related diseases involving SIRT1 dysfunction like steatosis and type 2 diabetes.
miR-34a; steatosis; diabetes; resveratrol; sirtuins; deacetylation
Telomeres are specialized structures at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that are important for maintaining genome stability and integrity. Telomere dysfunction has been linked to aging and cancer development. In mammalian cells, extensive studies have been carried out to illustrate how core telomeric proteins assemble on telomeres to recruit the telomerase and additional factors for telomere maintenance and protection. In comparison, how changes in growth signaling pathways impact telomeres and telomere-binding proteins remains largely unexplored. The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt (also known as PKB) pathway, one of the best characterized growth signaling cascades, regulates a variety of cellular function including cell proliferation, survival, metabolism, and DNA repair, and dysregulation of PI3-K/Akt signaling has been linked to aging and diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In this study, we provide evidence that the Akt signaling pathway plays an important role in telomere protection. Akt inhibition either by chemical inhibitors or small interfering RNAs induced telomere dysfunction. Furthermore, we found that TPP1 could homodimerize through its OB fold, a process that was dependent on the Akt kinase. Telomere damage and reduced TPP1 dimerization as a result of Akt inhibition was also accompanied by diminished recruitment of TPP1 and POT1 to the telomeres. Our findings highlight a previously unknown link between Akt signaling and telomere protection.
TPP1; Akt; telomere protection
The corneal endothelium (CE) is a single layer of cells lining the posterior face of the cornea providing metabolic functions essential for maintenance of corneal transparency. Adult CE cells lack regenerative potential, and the number of CE cells decreases throughout life. To determine whether endogenous DNA damage contributes to the age-related spontaneous loss of CE, we characterized CE in Ercc1−/Δ mice, which have impaired capacity to repair DNA damage and age prematurely. Eyes from 4.5- to 6-month-old Ercc1−/Δ mice, age-matched wild-type (WT) litter-mates, and old WT mice (24- to 34-month-old) were compared by spectral domain optical coherence tomography and corneal confocal microscopy. Histopathological changes in CE were further identified in paraffin tissue sections, whole-mount immunostaining, and scanning electron and transmission electron microscopy. The CE of old WT mice displayed polymorphism and polymegathism, polyploidy, decreased cell density, increased cell size, increases in Descemet’s thickness, and the presence of posterior projections originating from the CE toward the anterior chamber, similar to changes documented for aging human corneas. Similar changes were observed in young adult Ercc1−/Δ mice CE, demonstrating spontaneous premature aging of the CE of these DNA repair–deficient mice. CD45+ immune cells were associated with the posterior surface of CE from Ercc1−/Δ mice and the tissue expressed increased IL-1α, Cxcl2, and TNFα, proinflammatory proteins associated with senescence-associated secretory phenotype. These data provide strong experimental evidence that DNA damage can promote aging of the CE and that Ercc1−/Δ mice offer a rapid and accurate model to study CE pathogenesis and therapy.
aging; cornea; corneal endothelium; DNA repair; genotoxic stress; progeria
Adipose tissue is an important metabolic organ that integrates a wide array of homeostatic processes and is crucial for whole-body insulin sensitivity and energy metabolism. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a key thermogenic tissue with a well-established role in energy expenditure. BAT dissipates energy and protects against both hypothermia and obesity. Thus, BAT stimulation therapy is a rational strategy for the looming pandemic of obesity, whose consequences and comorbidities have a huge impact on the aged. Shc-deficient mice (ShcKO) were previously shown to be lean, insulin sensitive, and resistant to high-fat diet and obesity. We investigated the contribution of BAT to this phenotype. Insulin-dependent BAT glucose uptake was higher in ShcKO mice. Primary ShcKO BAT cells exhibited increased mitochondrial respiration; increased expression of several mitochondrial and lipid-oxidative enzymes was observed in ShcKO BAT. Levels of brown fat-specific markers of differentiation, UCP1, PRDM16, ELOVL3, and Cox8b, were higher in ShcKO BAT. In vitro, Shc knockdown in BAT cell line increased insulin sensitivity and metabolic activity. In vivo, pharmacological stimulation of ShcKO BAT resulted in higher energy expenditure. Conversely, pharmacological inhibition of BAT abolished the improved metabolic parameters, that is the increased insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance of ShcKO mice. Similarly, in vitro Shc knockdown in BAT cell lines increased their expression of UCP1 and metabolic activity. These data suggest increased BAT activity significantly contributes to the improved metabolic phenotype of ShcKO mice.
brown adipose; brown adipose tissue; energy expenditure; healthy aging; insulin; Shc
Although chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the pathology of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), knowledge regarding the events that elicit the change from para-inflammation to chronic inflammation in the pathogenesis of AMD is lacking. We propose here that lipocalin-2 (LCN2), a mammalian innate immunity protein that is trafficked to the lysosomes, may contribute to this process. It accumulates significantly with age in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells of Cryba1 conditional knockout (cKO) mice, but not in control mice. We have recently shown that these mice, which lack βA3/A1-crystallin specifically in RPE, have defective lysosomal clearance. The age-related increase in LCN2 in the cKO mice is accompanied by increases in chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2), reactive gliosis, and immune cell infiltration. LCN2 may contribute to induction of a chronic inflammatory response in this mouse model with AMD-like pathology.
age-related macular degeneration; Cryba1 cKO mice, inflammation; lipocalin-2; lysosomes; retinal pigment epithelium