Transfer learning in a biomaterial fibrosis model identifies in vivo senescence heterogeneity and contributions to vascularization and matrix production across species and diverse pathologies

Geroscience. 2023 Aug;45(4):2559-2587. doi: 10.1007/s11357-023-00785-7. Epub 2023 Apr 20.


Cellular senescence is a state of permanent growth arrest that plays an important role in wound healing, tissue fibrosis, and tumor suppression. Despite senescent cells' (SnCs) pathological role and therapeutic interest, their phenotype in vivo remains poorly defined. Here, we developed an in vivo-derived senescence signature (SenSig) using a foreign body response-driven fibrosis model in a p16-CreERT2;Ai14 reporter mouse. We identified pericytes and "cartilage-like" fibroblasts as senescent and defined cell type-specific senescence-associated secretory phenotypes (SASPs). Transfer learning and senescence scoring identified these two SnC populations along with endothelial and epithelial SnCs in new and publicly available murine and human data single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) datasets from diverse pathologies. Signaling analysis uncovered crosstalk between SnCs and myeloid cells via an IL34-CSF1R-TGFβR signaling axis, contributing to tissue balance of vascularization and matrix production. Overall, our study provides a senescence signature and a computational approach that may be broadly applied to identify SnC transcriptional profiles and SASP factors in wound healing, aging, and other pathologies.

Keywords: Fibrosis; RNA sequencing; Senescence.

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence* / genetics
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Mice
  • Phenotype