Targeting p16-induced senescence prevents cigarette smoke-induced emphysema by promoting IGF1/Akt1 signaling in mice

Commun Biol. 2019 Aug 9;2:307. doi: 10.1038/s42003-019-0532-1. eCollection 2019.


Senescence is a mechanism associated with aging that alters tissue regeneration by depleting the stem cell pool. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) displays hallmarks of senescence, including a diminished stem cell population. DNA damage from cigarette smoke (CS) induces senescence via the p16 pathway. This study evaluated the contribution of p16 to CS-associated lung pathologies. p16 expression was prominent in human COPD lungs compared with normal subjects. CS induces impaired pulmonary function, emphysema, and increased alveolar epithelial cell (AECII) senescence in wild-type mice, whereas CS-exposed p16-/- mice exhibit normal pulmonary function, reduced emphysema, diminished AECII senescence, and increased pro-growth IGF1 signaling, suggesting that improved lung function in p16-/- mice was due to increased alveolar progenitor cell proliferation. In conclusion, our study suggests that targeting senescence may facilitate alveolar regeneration in COPD emphysema by promoting IGF1 proliferative signaling.

Keywords: Molecular biology; Senescence; Stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alveolar Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Alveolar Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cellular Senescence*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Emphysema / etiology*
  • Emphysema / metabolism*
  • Emphysema / physiopathology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / genetics
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
  • Cytokines
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt