Tetraploidy in cancer and its possible link to aging

Cancer Sci. 2018 Sep;109(9):2632-2640. doi: 10.1111/cas.13717. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


Tetraploidy, a condition in which a cell has four homologous sets of chromosomes, is often seen as a natural physiological condition but is also frequently seen in pathophysiological conditions such as cancer. Tetraploidy facilitates chromosomal instability (CIN), which is an elevated level of chromosomal loss and gain that can cause production of a wide variety of aneuploid cells that carry structural and numerical aberrations of chromosomes. The resultant genomic heterogeneity supposedly expedites karyotypic evolution that confers oncogenic potential in spite of the reduced cellular fitness caused by aneuploidy. Recent studies suggest that tetraploidy might also be associated with aging; mice with mutations in an intermediate filament protein have revealed that these tetraploidy-prone mice exhibit tissue disorders associated with aging. Cellular senescence and its accompanying senescence-associated secretory phenotype have now emerged as critical factors that link tetraploidy and tetraploidy-induced CIN with cancer, and possibly with aging. Here, we review recent findings about how tetraploidy is related to cancer and possibly to aging, and discuss underlying mechanisms of the relationship, as well as how we can exploit the properties of cells exhibiting tetraploidy-induced CIN to control these pathological conditions.

Keywords: aging; aneuploidy; cancer; chromosomal instability; senescence; senescence-associated secretory phenotype; tetraploidy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics*
  • Chromosomal Instability / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Tetraploidy*