Endothelial defects significantly contribute to cardiovascular pathology in the premature aging disease Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS). Using an endothelium-specific progeria mouse model, we identify a novel, endothelium-specific microRNA (miR) signature linked to the p53-senescence pathway and a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Progerin-expressing endothelial cells exert profound cell-non-autonomous effects initiating senescence in non-endothelial cell populations and causing immune cell infiltrates around blood vessels. Comparative miR expression analyses revealed unique upregulation of senescence-associated miR34a-5p in endothelial cells with strong accumulation at atheroprone aortic arch regions but also, in whole cardiac- and lung tissues as well as in the circulation of progeria mice. Mechanistically, miR34a-5p knockdown reduced not only p53 levels but also late-stage senescence regulator p16 with no effect on p21 levels, while p53 knockdown reduced miR34a-5p and partially rescued p21-mediated cell cycle inhibition with a moderate effect on SASP. These data demonstrate that miR34a-5p reinforces two separate senescence regulating branches in progerin-expressing endothelial cells, the p53- and p16-associated pathways, which synergistically maintain a senescence phenotype that contributes to cardiovascular pathology. Thus, the key function of circulatory miR34a-5p in endothelial dysfunction-linked cardiovascular pathology offers novel routes for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment for cardiovascular aging in HGPS and potentially geriatric patients.
Keywords: Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome; cardiovascular disease; endothelial senescence; senescence-associated micro RNAs.