Depletion of senescent-like neuronal cells alleviates cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy in mice

Scarlett Acklin, Manchao Zhang, Wuying Du, Xin Zhao, Matthew Plotkin, Jianhui Chang, Judith Campisi, Daohong Zhou, Fen Xia

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42 Scopus citations


Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is among the most common dose-limiting adverse effects of cancer treatment, leading to dose reduction and discontinuation of life-saving chemotherapy and a permanently impaired quality of life for patients. Currently, no effective treatment or prevention is available. Senescence induced during cancer treatment has been shown to promote the adverse effects. Here, we show that cisplatin induces senescent-like neuronal cells in primary culture and in mouse dorsal root ganglia (DRG), as determined by the characteristic senescence markers including senescence-associated beta-galactosidase, accumulation of cytosolic p16INK4A and HMGB1, as well as increased expression of p16Ink4a, p21, and MMP-9. The accumulation of senescent-like neuronal cells in DRG is associated with cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) in mice. To determine if depletion of senescent-like neuronal cells may effectively mitigate CIPN, we used a pharmacological ‘senolytic’ agent, ABT263, which inhibits the anti-apoptotic proteins BCL-2 and BCL-xL and selectively kills senescent cells. Our results demonstrated that clearance of DRG senescent neuronal cells reverses CIPN, suggesting that senescent-like neurons play a role in CIPN pathogenesis. This finding was further validated using transgenic p16-3MR mice, which permit ganciclovir (GCV) to selectively kill senescent cells expressing herpes simplex virus 1 thymidine kinase (HSV-TK). We showed that CIPN was alleviated upon GCV administration to p16-3MR mice. Together, the results suggest that clearance of senescent DRG neuronal cells following platinum-based cancer treatment might be an effective therapy for the debilitating side effect of CIPN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14170
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

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