Because heat shock proteins have been shown to play a critical role in protecting cells from hyperthermia and other types of stresses, it was of interest to determine what effect cellular senescence in vitro and cells cultured in vitro from young and old human donors have on the ability of cells to regulate the expression of heat shock protein 70 (hsp70), the most prominent and most evolutionary conserved of the heat shock proteins. The ability of early and late passage IMR-90 lung fibroblasts and epidermal melanocytes and skin fibroblasts obtained from young and old human donors to express hsp70 was determined after a brief heat shock. We found that the levels of hsp70 protein and mRNA were lower in late passage cells and cells from old donors than in early passage cells and cells from young donors. The binding activity of the heat shock transcription factor HSF1, as measured by a gel shift assay, was significantly higher in early passage cells and cells from young donors in comparison to late passage cells and cells from old donors. In addition, the levels of HSF1 decreased significantly in late passage cells and cells from old donors in comparison to early passage cells and cells from young donors. Thus, our study demonstrates that the induction of hsp70 by hyperthermia in fibroblasts is significantly lower in late passage fibroblasts and in fibroblasts from old donors. In addition, our study shows that the decline in hsp70 expression during cellular senescence in vitro and in cells derived from old human subjects is paralleled by a decrease in the levels of HSF1.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.