Aging (Albany NY). 2017 Nov 22;9(11):2411-2435. doi: 10.18632/aging.101328.
Cellular senescence is a cell fate program that entails essentially irreversible proliferative arrest in response to damage signals. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), an important pro-inflammatory cytokine secreted by some types of senescent cells, can induce senescence in mouse and human cells. However, downstream signaling pathways linking TNFα-related inflammation to senescence are not fully characterized. Using human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) as a model, we show that TNFα induces permanent growth arrest and increases p21CIP1, p16INK4A, and SA-β-gal, accompanied by persistent DNA damage and ROS production. By gene expression profiling, we identified the crucial involvement of inflammatory and JAK/STAT pathways in TNFα-mediated senescence. We found that TNFα activates a STAT-dependent autocrine loop that sustains cytokine secretion and an interferon signature to lock cells into senescence. Furthermore, we show STAT1/3 activation is necessary for cytokine and ROS production during TNFα-induced senescence. However, inhibition of STAT1/3 did not rescue cells from proliferative arrest, but rather suppressed cell cycle regulatory genes and altered TNFα-induced senescence. Our findings suggest a positive feedback mechanism via the STAT pathway that sustains cytokine production and reveal a reciprocal regulatory role of JAK/STAT in TNFα-mediated senescence.