Cellular Senescence Contributes to Large Elastic Artery Stiffening and Endothelial Dysfunction With Aging: Amelioration With Senolytic Treatment.
BACKGROUND: Here, we assessed the role of cellular senescence and the senescence associated secretory phenotype (SASP) in age-related aortic stiffening and endothelial dysfunction. METHODS: We studied young (6-8 mo) and old (27-29 mo) p16-3MR mice, which allows for genetic-based clearance of senescent cells with ganciclovir (GCV). We also treated old C57BL/6N mice with the senolytic ABT-263. RESULTS: In old mice, GCV reduced aortic stiffness assessed by aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV; 477±10 vs. 382±7 cm/s, P<0.05) to young levels (old-GCV vs. young-vehicle, P=0.35); ABT-263 also reduced aortic PWV in old mice (446±9 to 356±11 cm/s, P<0.05). Aortic adventitial collagen was reduced by GCV (P<0.05) and ABT-263 (P=0.12) in old mice. To show an effect of the circulating SASP, we demonstrated that plasma exposure from Old-vehicle p16-3MR mice, but not from Old-GCV mice, induced aortic stiffening assessed ex vivo (elastic modulus; P<0.05). Plasma proteomics implicated glycolysis in circulating SASP-mediated aortic stiffening. In old p16-3MR mice, GCV increased endothelial function assessed via peak carotid artery endothelium-dependent dilation (EDD; Old-GCV, 94±1% vs. Old-vehicle, 84±2%, P<0.05) to young levels (Old-GCV vs. young-vehicle, P=0.98), and EDD was higher in old C57BL/6N mice treated with ABT-263 vs. vehicle (96±1% vs. 82±3%, P<0.05). Improvements in endothelial function were mediated by increased nitric oxide (NO) bioavailability (P<0.05) and reduced oxidative stress (P<0.05). Circulating SASP factors related to NO signaling were associated with greater NO-mediated EDD following senescent cell clearance. CONCLUSIONS: Cellular senescence and the SASP contribute to vascular aging and senolytics hold promise for improving age-related vascular function.