Astrocyte senescence promotes glutamate toxicity in cortical neurons.

TitleAstrocyte senescence promotes glutamate toxicity in cortical neurons.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsLimbad C, Oron TRonnen, Alimirah F, Davalos AR, Tracy TE, Gan L, Desprez P-Y, Campisi J
JournalPLoS One
Date Published2020
KeywordsAlzheimer Disease, Amino Acid Transport System X-AG, Astrocytes, Brain, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, Cellular Senescence, Gene Expression Regulation, Glutamic Acid, Humans, Nerve Degeneration, Neurons, Primary Cell Culture, X-Rays

Neurodegeneration is a major age-related pathology. Cognitive decline is characteristic of patients with Alzheimer's and related dementias and cancer patients after chemo- or radio-therapies. A recently emerged driver of these and other age-related pathologies is cellular senescence, a cell fate that entails a permanent cell cycle arrest and pro-inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Although there is a link between inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases, there are many open questions regarding how cellular senescence affects neurodegenerative pathologies. Among the various cell types in the brain, astrocytes are the most abundant. Astrocytes have proliferative capacity and are essential for neuron survival. Here, we investigated the phenotype of primary human astrocytes made senescent by X-irradiation, and identified genes encoding glutamate and potassium transporters as specifically downregulated upon senescence. This down regulation led to neuronal cell death in co-culture assays. Unbiased RNA sequencing of transcripts expressed by non-senescent and senescent astrocytes confirmed that glutamate homeostasis pathway declines upon senescence. Our results suggest a key role for cellular senescence, particularly in astrocytes, in excitotoxicity, which may lead to neurodegeneration including Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.

Alternate JournalPLoS ONE
PubMed ID31945125
PubMed Central IDPMC6964973
Grant ListP01 AG017242 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States