Microglia maintain homeostasis in the brain. However, with age, they become primed and respond more strongly to inflammatory stimuli. We show here that microglia from aged mice upregulated mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) complex 1 signaling regulating translation, as well as protein levels of inflammatory mediators. Genetic ablation of mTOR signaling showed a dual, yet contrasting effect on microglia priming: it caused an NF-kB-dependent upregulation of priming genes at mRNA level; however, mice displayed reduced cytokine protein levels, diminished microglia activation and milder sickness behavior. The effect on translation was dependent on reduced phosphorylation of 4EBP1, resulting in decreased binding of eIF4E to eIF4G. Similar changes were present in aged human microglia and in damage-associated microglia, indicating upregulation of mTOR-dependent translation is an essential step licensing microglia priming in aging and neurodegeneration.
Lily Keane, Ignazio Antignano, Sean-Patrick Riechers, Raphael Zollinger, Anaelle A. Dumas, Nina Offermann, Maria E. Bernis, Jenny Russ, Frederike J. Graelmann, Patrick N. McCormick, Julia Esser, Dario Tejera, Ai Nagano, Jun Wang, Claude Chelala, Yvonne Biederbick, Annett Halle, Paolo Salomoni, Michael Thomas Heneka, Melania Capasso
Dysfunction of immune and vascular systems has been implicated in aging and Alzheimer’s disease; however, their interrelatedness remains poorly understood. The complement pathway is a well-established regulator of innate immunity in the brain. Here, we report robust age-dependent increases in vascular inflammation, peripheral lymphocyte infiltration, and blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability. These phenotypes were subdued by global inactivation and by endothelial-specific ablation of C3ar1. Using an in vitro model of the BBB, we identify intracellular Ca2+ as a downstream effector of C3a-C3aR signaling and a functional mediator of VE-cadherins junction and barrier integrity. Endothelial C3ar1 inactivation also dampened microglia reactivity and improved hippocampal and cortical volumes in the aging brain, demonstrating a crosstalk between brain vasculature dysfunction and immune cell activation and neurodegeneration. Further, prominent C3aR-dependent vascular inflammation is also observed in a tau transgenic mouse model. Our studies suggest that heightened C3a-C3aR signaling through endothelial cells promotes vascular inflammation and BBB dysfunction and contribute to overall neuroinflammation in aging and neurodegenerative disease.
Nicholas E. Propson, Ethan R. Roy, Alexandra Litvinchuk, Jorg Köhl, Hui Zheng
Senescent cells (SnCs) are implicated in the pathogenesis of age-related diseases including osteoarthritis (OA), in part via expression of a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) that includes immunologically relevant factors and cytokines. In a model of posttraumatic OA (PTOA), anterior cruciate ligament transection (ACLT) induced a type 17 immune response in the articular compartment and draining inguinal lymph nodes (LNs) that paralleled expression of the senescence marker p16INK4a (Cdkn2a) and p21 (Cdkn1a). Innate lymphoid cells, γδ+ T cells, and CD4+ T cells contributed to IL-17 expression. Intra-articular injection of IL-17–neutralizing antibody reduced joint degeneration and decreased expression of the senescence marker Cdkn1a. Local and systemic senolysis was required to attenuate tissue damage in aged animals and was associated with decreased IL-17 and increased IL-4 expression in the articular joint and draining LNs. In vitro, we found that Th17 cells induced senescence in fibroblasts and that SnCs skewed naive T cells toward Th17 or Th1, depending on the presence of TGF-β. The SASP profile of the inflammation-induced SnCs included altered Wnt signaling, tissue remodeling, and cell-cycle pathways not previously implicated in senescence. These findings provide molecular targets and mechanisms for senescence induction and therapeutic strategies to support tissue healing in an aged environment.
Heather J. Faust, Hong Zhang, Jin Han, Matthew T. Wolf, Ok Hee Jeon, Kaitlyn Sadtler, Alexis N. Peña, Liam Chung, David R. Maestas Jr., Ada J. Tam, Drew M. Pardoll, Judith Campisi, Franck Housseau, Daohong Zhou, Clifton O. Bingham III, Jennifer H. Elisseeff
As a hallmark of immunological ageing, the low-grade, chronic inflammation with accumulation of effector-memory T cells contributes to the increased susceptibility of many ageing-related diseases. While the proinflammatory state of aged T cells indicates a dysregulation of immune homeostasis, whether and how ageing drives regulatory T (Treg) cell ageing and alters their function is not fully understood due to a lack of specific ageing markers. Here, by a combination of cellular, molecular and bioinformatic approaches, we discover that Treg cells senesce more severely than conventional T (Tconv) cells during ageing. We found Treg cells from aged mice were less efficient than young Treg cells to suppress Tconv cell function in an inflammatory-bowel-disease model and to prevent Tconv cell ageing in the irradiation-induced ageing model. Furthermore, we revealed that DCAF1 (DDB1 and CUL4 associated factor 1) was downregulated in aged Treg cells and was critical to restrain Treg cell ageing via glutathione S-transferase P (GSTP1) regulated reactive-oxygen-species (ROS). Importantly, interfering with GSTP1 and ROS pathways reinvigorated the proliferation and function of aged Treg cells. Therefore, our studies uncover an important role of DCAF1-GSTP1-ROS axis in Treg cell senescence, which leads to uncontrolled inflammation and immunological ageing.
Zengli Guo, Gang Wang, Bing Wu, Wei-Chun Chou, Liang Cheng, Chenlin Zhou, Jitong Lou, Di Wu, Lishan Su, Junnian Zheng, Jenny Pan-Yun Ting, Yisong Y. Wan
Vaccination is a mainstay in preventive medicine, reducing morbidity and mortality from infection, largely by generating pathogen-specific neutralizing antibodies. However, standard immunization strategies are insufficient with increasing age due to immunological impediments, including defects in T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. Here, we found that Tfh generation is inversely linked to the expression of the ecto-NTPDase CD39 that modifies purinergic signaling. The lineage-determining transcription factor BCL6 inhibited CD39 expression, while increased Tfh frequencies were found in individuals with a germline polymorphism preventing transcription of ENTPD1, encoding CD39. In in vitro human and in vivo mouse studies, Tfh generation and germinal center responses were enhanced by reducing CD39 expression through the inhibition of the cAMP/PKA/p-CREB pathway, or by blocking adenosine signaling downstream of CD39 using the selective adenosine A2a receptor antagonist istradefylline. Thus, purinergic signaling in differentiating T cells can be targeted to improve vaccine responses, in particular in older individuals who have increased CD39 expression.
Wenqiang Cao, Fengqin Fang, Timothy Gould, Xuanying Li, Chulwoo Kim, Claire Gustafson, Simon Lambert, Cornelia M. Weyand, Jörg J. Goronzy
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key regulator at the molecular level to maintain energy metabolism homeostasis. Mammalian AMPK is a heterotrimeric complex and its catalytic α subunit exists in two isoforms: AMPKα1 and AMPKα2. Recent studies suggest a role of AMPKα over-activation in AD-associated synaptic failure. However, whether AD-associated dementia can be improved by targeting AMPK remains unclear, and roles of AMPKα isoforms in AD pathophysiology are not understood. Here we showed distinct disruption of hippocampal AMPKα isoform expression patterns in post mortem human AD patients and AD model mice. We further investigated the effects of brain- and isoform-specific AMPKα repression on AD pathophysiology. We found that repression of AMPKα1 alleviated cognitive deficits and synaptic failure displayed in two separate lines of AD model mice. In contrast, AMPKα2 suppression did not alter AD pathophysiology. Using unbiased mass spectrometry-based proteomics analysis, we identified distinct patterns of protein expression associated with specific AMPKα isoform suppression in AD model mice. Further, AD-associated hyper-phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) was blunted with selective AMPKα1 inhibition. Our findings reveal isoform-specific roles of AMPKα in AD pathophysiology, thus providing insights into potential therapeutic strategy for AD and related dementia syndromes.
Helena R. Zimmermann, Wenzhong Yang, Nicole P. Kasica, Xueyan Zhou, Xin Wang, Brenna C. Beckelman, Jingyun Lee, Cristina M. Furdui, C. Dirk Keene, Tao Ma
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is clearly age-related and represents one of the deadliest cancer types worldwide. Due to globally increasing risk factors including metabolic disorders, the incidence rates of HCC are still rising. However, the molecular hallmarks of HCC remain poorly understood. Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and NPY-receptors represent a highly conserved, stress-activated system which is involved in diverse cancer-related hallmarks including aging and metabolic alterations, but its impact on liver cancer had been unclear. Here, we observed increased NPY5-receptor (Y5R) expression in HCC which correlated with tumor growth and survival. Furthermore, we found that its ligand NPY was secreted by peri-tumorous hepatocytes. Hepatocyte-derived NPY promoted HCC progression by Y5R-activation. Transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFβ1) was identified as a regulator of NPY in hepatocytes and induced Y5R in invasive cancer cells. Moreover, NPY-conversion by dipeptidylpeptidase 4 (DPP4) augmented Y5R-activation and function in liver cancer. The TGFβ-NPY-Y5R-axis and DPP4 represent attractive therapeutic targets for controlling liver cancer progression.
Peter Dietrich, Laura Wormser, Valerie Fritz, Tatjana Seitz, Monica De Maria, Alexandra Schambony, Andreas E. Kremer, Claudia Günther, Timo Itzel, Wolfgang E. Thasler, Andreas Teufel, Jonel Trebicka, Arndt Hartmann, Markus F. Neurath, Stephan von Hörsten, Anja Bosserhoff, Claus Hellerbrand
Mosaic-variegated aneuploidy (MVA) syndrome is a rare childhood disorder characterized by biallelic BUBR1, CEP57, or TRIP13 aberrations; increased chromosome missegregation; and a broad spectrum of clinical features, including various cancers, congenital defects, and progeroid pathologies. To investigate the mechanisms underlying this disorder and its phenotypic heterogeneity, we mimicked the BUBR1L1012P mutation in mice (BubR1L1002P) and combined it with 2 other MVA variants, BUBR1X753 and BUBR1H, generating a truncated protein and low amounts of wild-type protein, respectively. Whereas BubR1X753/L1002P and BubR1H/X753 mice died prematurely, BubR1H/L1002P mice were viable and exhibited many MVA features, including cancer predisposition and various progeroid phenotypes, such as short lifespan, dwarfism, lipodystrophy, sarcopenia, and low cardiac stress tolerance. Strikingly, although these mice had a reduction in total BUBR1 and spectrum of MVA phenotypes similar to that of BubR1H/H mice, several progeroid pathologies were attenuated in severity, which in skeletal muscle coincided with reduced senescence-associated secretory phenotype complexity. Additionally, mice carrying monoallelic BubR1 mutations were prone to select MVA-related pathologies later in life, with predisposition to sarcopenia correlating with mTORC1 hyperactivity. Together, these data demonstrate that BUBR1 allelic effects beyond protein level and aneuploidy contribute to disease heterogeneity in both MVA patients and heterozygous carriers of MVA mutations.
Cynthia J. Sieben, Karthik B. Jeganathan, Grace G. Nelson, Ines Sturmlechner, Cheng Zhang, Willemijn H. van Deursen, Bjorn Bakker, Floris Foijer, Hu Li, Darren J. Baker, Jan M. van Deursen
Oxidative stress plays an important role in aging-related neurodegeneration. This study used littermates of WT and Nox2-knockout (Nox2KO) mice plus endothelial cell–specific human Nox2 overexpression–transgenic (HuNox2Tg) mice to investigate Nox2-derived ROS in brain aging. Compared with young WT mice (3–4 months), aging WT mice (20–22 months) had obvious metabolic disorders and loss of locomotor activity. Aging WT brains had high levels of angiotensin II (Ang II) and ROS production; activation of ERK1/2, p53, and γH2AX; and losses of capillaries and neurons. However, these abnormalities were markedly reduced in aging Nox2KO brains. HuNox2Tg brains at middle age (11–12 months) already had high levels of ROS production and activation of stress signaling pathways similar to those found in aging WT brains. The mechanism of Ang II–induced endothelial Nox2 activation in capillary damage was examined using primary brain microvascular endothelial cells. The clinical significance of Nox2-derived ROS in aging-related loss of cerebral capillaries and neurons was investigated using postmortem midbrain tissues of young (25–38 years) and elderly (61–85 years) adults. In conclusion, Nox2 activation is an important mechanism in aging-related cerebral capillary rarefaction and reduced brain function, with the possibility of a key role for endothelial cells.
Lampson M. Fan, Li Geng, Sarah Cahill-Smith, Fangfei Liu, Gillian Douglas, Chris-Anne Mckenzie, Colin Smith, Gavin Brooks, Keith M. Channon, Jian-Mei Li
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is a premature aging disorder characterized by accelerated cardiovascular disease with extensive fibrosis. It is caused by a mutation in LMNA leading to expression of truncated prelamin A (progerin) in the nucleus. To investigate the contribution of the endothelium to cardiovascular HGPS pathology, we generated an endothelium-specific HGPS mouse model with selective endothelial progerin expression. Transgenic mice develop interstitial myocardial and perivascular fibrosis and left ventricular hypertrophy associated with diastolic dysfunction and premature death. Endothelial cells show impaired shear stress response and reduced levels of endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) and NO. On the molecular level, progerin impairs nucleocytoskeletal coupling in endothelial cells through changes in mechanoresponsive components at the nuclear envelope, increased F-/G-actin ratios and deregulation of mechanoresponsive myocardin-related transcription factor-A (MRTFA). MRTFA binds to the Nos3 promoter reducing eNOS expression, thereby mediating a pro-fibrotic paracrine response in fibroblasts. MRTFA inhibition rescues eNOS levels and ameliorates the pro-fibrotic effect of endothelial cells in vitro. Although this murine model lacks the key anatomical feature of vascular smooth muscle cell loss seen in HGPS patients, our data show that progerin-induced impairment of mechanosignaling in endothelial cells contributes to excessive fibrosis and cardiovascular disease in HGPS patients.
Selma Osmanagic-Myers, Attila Kiss, Christina Manakanatas, Ouafa Hamza, Franziska Sedlmayer, Petra L. Szabo, Irmgard Fischer, Petra Fichtinger, Bruno K. Podesser, Maria Eriksson, Roland Foisner
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