Astrocyte senescence may drive alterations in GFAPα, CDKN2A p14ARF, and TAU3 transcript expression and contribute to cognitive decline
Holley, Janet E
Gutowski, Nicholas J
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The accumulation of senescent cells in tissues is causally linked to the development of several age-related diseases; the removal of senescent glial cells in animal models prevents Tau accumulation and cognitive decline. Senescent cells can arise through several distinct mechanisms; one such mechanism is dysregulation of alternative splicing. In this study, we characterised the senescent cell phenotype in primary human astrocytes in terms of SA-β-Gal staining and SASP secretion, and then assessed splicing factor expression and candidate gene splicing patterns. Finally, we assessed associations between expression of dysregulated isoforms and premature cognitive decline in 197 samples from the InCHIANTI study of ageing, where expression was present in both blood and brain. We demonstrate here that senescent astrocytes secrete a modified SASP characterised by increased IL8, MMP3, MMP10, and TIMP2 but decreased IL10 levels. We identified significant changes in splicing factor expression for 10/20 splicing factors tested in senescent astrocytes compared with early passage cells, as well as dysregulation of isoform levels for 8/13 brain or senescence genes tested. Finally, associations were identified between peripheral blood GFAPα, TAU3, and CDKN2A (P14ARF) isoform levels and mild or severe cognitive decline over a 3-7-year period. Our data are suggestive that some of the features of cognitive decline may arise from dysregulated splicing of important genes in senescent brain support cells, and that defects in alternative splicing or splicing regulator expression deserve exploration as points of therapeutic intervention in the future.