[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In proliferating cells, mTOR is active and promotes cell growth. When the cell cycle is arrested, then mTOR converts reversible arrest to senescence (geroconversion). Rapamycin and other rapalogs suppress geroconversion, maintaining quiescence instead. Here we showed that ATP-competitive kinase inhibitors (Torin1 and PP242), which inhibit both mTORC1 and TORC2, also suppressed geroconversion. Despite inhibition of proliferation (in proliferating cells), mTOR inhibitors preserved re-proliferative potential (RP) in arrested cells. In p21-arrested cells, Torin 1 and PP242 detectably suppressed geroconversion at concentrations as low as 1-3 nM and 10-30 nM, reaching maximal gerosuppression at 30 nM and 300 nM, respectively. Near-maximal gerosuppression coincided with inhibition of p-S6K(T389) and p-S6(S235/236). Dual mTOR inhibitors prevented senescent morphology and hypertrophy. Our study warrants investigation into whether low doses of dual mTOR inhibitors will prolong animal life span and delay age-related diseases. A new class of potential anti-aging drugs can be envisioned.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common age-related disease in men. Here we tested the efficacy of Rapatar, a micellar nanoformulation of rapamycin, in two rat models of BPH: testosterone-induced and sulpiride-induced hyperplasia in ventral lobes and lateral/dorsal lobes, respectively. We found that Rapatar prevented hypertrophic and hyperplastic abnormalities and degenerative alterations in both BPH models. Rapatar normalized weight of the lateral lobes in sulpiride-induced BPH, the most relevant animal model of human BPH. Unlike Finasteride, a standard therapy of BPH, Rapatar reduced inflammation caused by sulpiride. No obvious side effects of Rapatar were detected. Our data provide a rationale for clinical trials of Rapatar in patients suffering from BPH.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 2014 year ended with celebration: Everolimus, a rapamycin analog, was shown to improve immunity in old humans, heralding 'a turning point' in research and new era in human quest for immortality. Yet, this turning point was predicted a decade ago. But what will cause human death, when aging will be abolished?
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phorbol ester (PMA or TPA), a tumor promoter, can cause either proliferation or cell cycle arrest, depending on cellular context. For example, in SKBr3 breast cancer cells, PMA hyper-activates the MEK/MAPK pathway, thus inducing p21 and cell cycle arrest. Here we showed that PMA-induced arrest was followed by conversion to cellular senescence (geroconversion). Geroconversion was associated with active mTOR and S6 kinase (S6K). Rapamycin suppressed geroconversion, maintaining quiescence instead. In this model, PMA induced arrest (step one of a senescence program), whereas constitutively active mTOR drove geroconversion (step two). Without affecting Akt phosphorylation, PMA increased phosphorylation of S6K (T389) and S6 (S240/244), and that was completely prevented by rapamycin. Yet, T421/S424 and S235/236 (p-S6K and p-S6, respectively) phosphorylation became rapamycin-insensitive in the presence of PMA. Either MEK or mTOR was sufficient to phosphorylate these PMA-induced rapamycin-resistant sites because co-treatment with U0126 and rapamycin was required to abrogate them. We next tested whether activation of rapamycin-insensitive pathways would shift quiescence towards senescence. In HT-p21 cells, cell cycle arrest was caused by IPTG-inducible p21 and was spontaneously followed by mTOR-dependent geroconversion. Rapamycin suppressed geroconversion, whereas PMA partially counteracted the effect of rapamycin, revealing the involvement of rapamycin-insensitive gerogenic pathways. In normal RPE cells arrested by serum withdrawal, the mTOR/pS6 pathway was inhibited and cells remained quiescent. PMA transiently activated mTOR, enabling partial geroconversion. We conclude that PMA can initiate a senescent program by either inducing arrest or fostering geroconversion or both. Rapamycin can decrease gero-conversion by PMA, without preventing PMA-induced arrest. The tumor promoter PMA is a gero-promoter, which may be useful to study aging in mammals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In Slavic folklore, Koschei the Immortal was bony, thin and lean. Was his condition caused by severe calorie restriction (CR)? CR deactivates the target of rapamycin pathway and slows down aging. But the life-extending effect of severe CR is limited by starvation. What if Koschei's anti-aging formula included rapamycin? And was rapamycin (or another rapalog) combined with commonly available drugs such as metformin, aspirin, propranolol, angiotensin II receptor blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.
Preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Cell Death & Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most physiological type of cell cycle arrest - namely, contact inhibition in dense culture - is the least densely studied. Despite cell cycle arrest, confluent cells do not become senescent. We recently described that mTOR (target of rapamycin) is inactive in contact-inhibited cells. Therefore, conversion from reversible arrest to senescence (geroconversion) is suppressed. I this Perspective, we further extended the gerosuppression model. While causing senescence in regular cell density, etoposide failed to cause senescence in contact-inhibited cells. A transient reactivation of mTOR favored geroconversion in etoposide-treated confluent cells. Like p21, p16 did not cause senescence in high cell density. We discuss that suppression of geroconversion in confluent and contact-inhibited cultures mimics gerosuppression in the organism. We confirmed that levels of p-S6 were low in murine tissues in the organism compared with mouse embryonic fibroblasts in cell culture, whereas p-Akt was reciprocally high in the organism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Cellular senescence happens in two steps: cell cycle arrest followed, or sometimes preceded, by gerogenic conversion (geroconversion). Geroconvesrion is a form of growth, a futile growth during cell cycle arrest. It converts reversible arrest to irreversible senescence. Geroconversion is driven by growth-promoting, mitogen-/nutrient-sensing pathways such as mTOR. Geroconversion leads to hyper-secretory, hypertrophic and pro-inflammatory cellular phenotypes, hyperfunctions and malfunctions. On organismal level, geroconversion leads to age-related diseases and death. Rapamycin, a gerosuppressant, extends life span in diverse species from yeast to mammals. Stress-and oncogene-induced accelerated senescence, replicative senescence in vitro and life-long cellular aging in vivo all can be described by two-step model.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At a wide range of doses, rapamycin extends life span in mice. It was shown that intraperitoneal injections (i.p.) of rapamycin prevent weight gain in mice on high-fat diet (HFD). We further investigated the effect of rapamycin on weight gain in female C57BL/6 mice on HFD started at the age of 7.5 months. By the age of 16 and 23 months, mice on HFD weighed significantly more (52 vs 33 g; p = 0.0001 and 70 vs 38 g; p < 0.0001, respectively) than mice on low fat diet (LFD). The i.p. administration of 1.5 mg/kg rapamycin, 3 times a week every other week, completely prevented weight gain, whereas administration of rapamycin by oral gavash did not. Rapamycin given in the drinking water slightly decreased weight gain by the age of 23 months. In addition, metabolic parameters were evaluated at the age of 16 and 23 months, 6 and 13 days after last rapamycin administration, respectively. Plasma leptin levels strongly correlated with body weight, (P < 0.0001, r=0.86), suggesting that the difference in weight was due to fat tissue mass. Levels of insulin, glucose, triglycerides and IGF1 were not statistically different in all groups, indicating that these courses of rapamycin treatment did not impair metabolic parameters at least after rapamycin discontinuation. Despite rapamycin discontinuation, cardiac levels of phospho-S6 and pAKT(S473) were low in the i.p.-treated group. This continuous effect of rapamycin can be explained by prevention of obesity in the i.p. group. We conclude that intermittent i.p. administration of rapamycin prevents weight gain without causing gross metabolic abnormalities. Intermittent gavash administration minimally affected weight gain. Potential clinical applications are discussed.
No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cells exposed to extreme physicochemical or mechanical stimuli die in an uncontrollable manner, as a result of their immediate structural breakdown. Such an unavoidable variant of cellular demise is generally referred to as /`accidental cell death/' (ACD). In most settings, however, cell death is initiated by a genetically encoded apparatus, correlating with the fact that its course can be altered by pharmacologic or genetic interventions. /`Regulated cell death/' (RCD) can occur as part of physiologic programs or can be activated once adaptive responses to perturbations of the extracellular or intracellular microenvironment fail. The biochemical phenomena that accompany RCD may be harnessed to classify it into a few subtypes, which often (but not always) exhibit stereotyped morphologic features. Nonetheless, efficiently inhibiting the processes that are commonly thought to cause RCD, such as the activation of executioner caspases in the course of apoptosis, does not exert true cytoprotective effects i
Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Cell death and differentiation
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: TOR is involved in aging in a wide range of species from yeast to mammals. Here we show that, after overnight fasting, mTOR activity is higher in the livers of 28 months old female mice compared with middle-aged mice. Taken together with previous reports, our data predict that the life-extending effect of calorie restriction (CR) may be diminished, if CR is started in very old age. In contrast, rapamycin is known to be effective, even when started late in life.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During cell cycle arrest caused by contact inhibition (CI), cells do not undergo senescence, thus resuming proliferation after replating. The mechanism of senescence avoidance during CI is unknown. Recently, it was demonstrated that the senescence program, namely conversion from cell cycle arrest to senescence (i.e., geroconversion), requires mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Geroconversion can be suppressed by serum starvation, rapamycin, and hypoxia, which all inhibit mTOR. Here we demonstrate that CI, as evidenced by p27 induction in normal cells, was associated with inhibition of the mTOR pathway. Furthermore, CI antagonized senescence caused by CDK inhibitors. Stimulation of mTOR in contact-inhibited cells favored senescence. In cancer cells lacking p27 induction and CI, mTOR was still inhibited in confluent culture as a result of conditioning of the medium. This inhibition of mTOR suppressed p21-induced senescence. Also, trapping of malignant cells among contact-inhibited normal cells antagonized p21-induced senescence. Thus, we identified two nonmutually exclusive mechanisms of mTOR inhibition in high cell density: (i) CI associated with p27 induction in normal cells and (ii) conditioning of the medium, especially in cancer cells. Both mechanisms can coincide in various proportions in various cells. Our work explains why CI is reversible and, most importantly, why cells avoid senescence in vivo, given that cells are contact-inhibited in the organism.
Preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is involved in insulin resistance (IR) and diabetic retinopathy. In retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, insulin activates the mTOR pathway, inducing hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and HIF-dependent transcription in serum-free minimum essential medium Eagle (MEM). Serendipitously, we found that insulin failed to induce the HIF-1α-dependent response, when RPE cells were cultured in Dulbecco's modification of Eagle's medium (DMEM). Whereas concentration of glucose in MEM corresponds to normal glucose levels in blood (5.5 mM), its concentration in DMEM corresponds to severe diabetic hyperglycemia (25 mM). Addition of glucose to MEM also caused IR. Glucose-mediated IR was characterized by basal activation of mTORC1 and its poor inducibility by insulin. Basal levels of phosphorylated S6 kinase (S6K), S6 and insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS1) S635/639 were high, whereas their inducibilities were decreased. Insulin-induced Akt phosphorylation was decreased and restored by rapamycin and an inhibitor of S6K. IR was associated with de-phosphorylation of IRS1 at S1011, which was reversed by rapamycin. Both short (16-40 h) and chronic (2 weeks) treatment with rapamycin reversed IR. Furthermore, rapamycin did not impair Akt activation in RPE cells cultured in normoglycemic media. In contrast, Torin 1 blocked Akt activation by insulin. We conclude that by activating mTOR/S6K glucose causes feedback IR, preventable by rapamycin. Rapamycin does not cause IR in RPE cells regardless of the duration of treatment. We confirmed that rapamycin also did not impair phosphorylation of Akt at T308 and S473 in normal myoblast C2C12 cells. Our work provides insights in glucose-induced IR and suggests therapeutic approaches to treat patients with IR and severe hyperglycemia and to prevent diabetic complications such as retinopathy. Also our results prompt to reconsider physiological relevance of numerous data and paradigms on IR given that most cell lines are cultured with grossly super-physiological levels of glucose.
Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Cell Death & Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent discoveries have revealed the key role of mTOR (target of rapamycin) in aging. Furthermore, rapamycin extends lifespan in mice, especially in female mice. Here, we treated obese male mice on high-fat diet with rapamycin given intermittently: either weekly (once a week) or alternating bi-weekly (three injections every other week). While only marginally reducing obesity, intermittent administration of rapamycin significantly extended lifespan. Significance was achieved for weekly treated group and for the three rapamycin-received groups combined. In weekly treatment group, 100% mice were alive by the age of 2 years, whereas 60% of mice died in untreated group by this age. The effect of weekly treatment on survival was highly significant and cannot be fully explained by partial reduction in obesity. Alternating bi-weekly treatments seem to be less effective than weekly treatment, although effects of additional factors (see ) may not be excluded. After one year of treatment, all survived mice were sacrificed 8 days after the last administration of rapamycin to avoid its direct interference with parameters examined. Fasting levels of cardiac and hepatic p-S6, a marker of mTORC1 activity, were lower in weekly treatment group compared with control mice. In contrast, levels of p-Akt (S473), glucose, triglycerides and insulin were unchanged, whereas leptin and IGF-1 tended to be lower. Thus, weekly treatment with rapamycin may slow down aging in obese male mice on high-fat diet.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Target of Rapamycin (TOR) is involved in cellular and organismal aging. Rapamycin extends lifespan and delays cancer in mice. It is important to determine the minimum effective dose and frequency of its administration that still extends lifespan and prevents cancer. Previously we tested 1.5 mg/kg of rapamycin given subcutaneously 6 times per two weeks followed by a two-week break (1.5 × 6/bi-weekly schedule: total of 6 injections during a 4-week period). This intermittent treatment prolonged lifespan and delayed cancer in cancer-prone female FVB/N HER-2/neu mice. Here, the dose was decreased from 1.5 mg/kg to 0.45 mg/kg per injection. This treatment was started at the age of 2 months (group Rap-2), 4 months (Rap-4), and 5 months (Rap-5). Three control groups received the solvent from the same ages. Rapamycin significantly delayed cancer and decreased tumor burden in Rap-2 and Rap-5 groups, increased mean lifespan in Rap-4 and Rap-5 groups, and increased maximal lifespan in Rap-2 and Rap-5 groups. In Rap-4 group, mean lifespan extension was achieved without significant cancer prevention. The complex relationship between life-extension and cancer-prevention depends on both the direct effect of rapamycin on cancer cells and its anti-aging effect on the organism, which in turn prevents cancer indirectly. We conclude that total doses of rapamycin that are an order of magnitude lower than standard total doses can detectably extend life span in cancer-prone mice.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Cancer biology & therapy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A groundbreaking publication by Sinclair and coworkers has illuminated the pseudo-hypoxic state in aging and its reversibility. Remarkably, these data also fit the mTOR-centered model of aging. Here we discuss that the mTOR pathway can cause cellular pseudo-hypoxic state, manifested by HIF-1 expression and lactate production under normoxia. We found that rapamycin decreased HIF-1 and lactate levels in proliferating and senescent cells in vitro. This reduction was independent from mitochondrial respiration: rapamycin decreased lactate production in normoxia, hypoxia, and in the presence of the OXPHOS inhibitor oligomycin. We suggest that pseudo-hypoxic state is not necessarily caused by mitochondrial dysfunction, but instead mitochondrial dysfunction may be secondary to mTOR-driven hyperfunctions. Clinical applications of rapamycin for reversing pseudo-hypoxic state and lactate acidosis are discussed.
No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.)
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article is addressed to endocrinologists treating patients with diabetic complications as well as to basic scientists studying an elusive link between diseases and aging. It answers some challenging questions. What is the link between insulin resistance (IR), cellular aging and diseases? Why complications such as retinopathy may paradoxically precede the onset of type II diabetes. Why intensive insulin therapy may initially worsen retinopathy. How nutrient- and insulin-sensing mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway can drive insulin resistance and diabetic complications. And how rapamycin, at rational doses and schedules, may prevent IR, retinopathy, nephropathy and beta-cell failure, without causing side effects.
Preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Cell Death & Disease
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rapalogs such as rapamycin (sirolimus), everolimus, temserolimus, and deforolimus are indicated for the treatment of some malignancies. Rapamycin is the most effective cancer-preventive agent currently known, at least in mice, dramatically delaying carcinogenesis in both normal and cancer-prone murine strains. In addition, rapamycin and everolimus decrease the risk of cancer in patients receiving these drugs in the context of immunosuppressive regimens. In general, the main concern about the use of immunosuppressants in humans is an increased risk of cancer. Given that rapalogs are useful in cancer prevention and therapy, should they be viewed as immunosuppressants or immunostimulators? Or should we reconsider the role of immunity in cancer altogether? In addition to its anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic and anti-proliferative effects, rapamycin operates as a gerosuppressant, meaning that it inhibits the cellular conversion to a senescent state (the so-called geroconversion), a fundamental process involved in aging and age-related pathologies including cancer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent groundbreaking discoveries have revealed that IGF-1, Ras, MEK, AMPK, TSC1/2, FOXO, PI3K, mTOR, S6K, and NFκB are involved in the aging process. This is remarkable because the same signaling molecules, oncoproteins and tumor suppressors, are well-known targets for cancer therapy. Furthermore, anti-cancer drugs aimed at some of these targets have been already developed. This arsenal could be potentially employed for anti-aging interventions (given that similar signaling molecules are involved in both cancer and aging). In cancer, intrinsic and acquired resistance, tumor heterogeneity, adaptation, and genetic instability of cancer cells all hinder cancer-directed therapy. But for anti-aging applications, these hurdles are irrelevant. For example, since anti-aging interventions should be aimed at normal postmitotic cells, no selection for resistance is expected. At low doses, certain agents may decelerate aging and age-related diseases. Importantly, deceleration of aging can in turn postpone cancer, which is an age-related disease.
Preview · Article · Nov 2013 · Cancer biology & therapy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aging is not and cannot be programmed. Instead, aging is a continuation of developmental growth, driven by genetic pathways such as mTOR. Ironically, this is often misunderstood as a sort of programmed aging. In contrast, aging is a purposeless quasi-program or, figuratively, a shadow of actual programs.
“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.” -George Martin