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.