Telomerase therapy reverses vascular senescence and extends lifespan in progeria mice

Anahita Mojiri, Brandon K Walther, Chongming Jiang, Gianfranco Matrone, Rhonda Holgate, Qiu Xu, Elisa Morales, Guangyu Wang, Jianhua Gu, Rongfu Wang, John P Cooke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background: Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) is an accelerated aging syndrome associated with premature vascular disease and death due to heart attack and stroke. In HGPS a mutation in lamin A (progerin), alters nuclear morphology and gene expression. Current therapy increases the lifespan of these children only modestly. Thus, greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of HGPS is required to improve therapy. Endothelial cells (ECs) differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from these patients exhibit hallmarks of senescence including replication arrest, increased expression of inflammatory markers, DNA damage, and telomere erosion. We hypothesized that correction of shortened telomeres may reverse these measures of vascular aging.

Methods: We generated ECs from iPSCs belonging to children with HGPS and their unaffected parents. Telomerase mRNA (hTERT) was used to treat HGPS ECs. Endothelial morphology and functions were assessed, as well as proteomic and transcriptional profiles with attention to inflammatory markers, DNA damage and EC identity genes. In a mouse model of HGPS, we assessed the effects of lentiviral transfection of mTERT on measures of senescence, focusing on the EC phenotype in various organs.

Results: hTERT treatment of human HGPS ECs improved replicative capacity; restored endothelial functions such as nitric oxide generation, acLDL uptake, and angiogenesis; and reduced the elaboration of inflammatory cytokines. In addition, hTERT treatment improved cellular and nuclear morphology, in association with a normalization of the transcriptional profile, effects which may be mediated in part by a reduction in progerin expression and an increase in SIRT1. Progeria mice treated with mTERT Lentivirus manifested similar improvements, with a reduction in inflammatory and DNA damage markers and increased SIRT1 in their vasculature and other organs. Furthermore, mTERT therapy increased the lifespan of HGPS mice.

Conclusion: Vascular rejuvenation using telomerase mRNA is a promising approach for progeria and other age-related diseases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Heart Journal
Early online date14 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Aug 2021


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