Transplanted senescent renal scattered tubular-like cells induce injury in the mouse kidney

Seo Rin Kim, Kai Jiang, Christopher M. Ferguson, Hui Tang, Xiaojun Chen, Xiang Yang Zhu, La Tonya J. Hickson, Tamara Tchkonia, James L. Kirkland, Lilach O. Lerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cellular senescence, a permanent arrest of cell proliferation, is characterized by a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which reinforces senescence and exerts noxious effects on adjacent cells. Recent studies have suggested that transplanting small numbers of senescent cells suffices to provoke tissue inflammation. We hypothesized that senescent cells can directly augment renal injury. Primary scattered tubular-like cells (STCs) acquired from pig kidneys were irradiated by 10 Gy of cesium radiation, and 3 wk later cells were characterized for levels of senescence and SASP markers. Control or senescent STCs were then prelabeled and injected (5 * 105 cells) into the aorta of C57BL/6J mice. Four weeks later, renal oxygenation was studied in vivo using 16.4-T magnetic resonance imaging and function by plasma creatinine level. Renal markers of SASP, fibrosis, and microvascular density were evaluated ex vivo. Per flow cytometry, irradiation induced senescence in 80 -99% of STCs, which showed increased gene expression of senescence and SASP markers, senescence-associated β-galactosidase staining, and cytokine levels (especially IL-6) secreted in conditioned medium. Four weeks after injection, cells were detected engrafted in the mouse kidneys with no evidence for rejection. Plasma creatinine and renal tissue hypoxia increased in senescent compared with control cells. Senescent kidneys were more fibrotic, with fewer CD31+ endothelial cells, and showed upregulation of IL-6 gene expression. Therefore, exogenously delivered senescent renal STCs directly injure healthy mouse kidneys. Additional studies are needed to determine the role of endogenous cellular senescence in the pathogenesis of kidney injury and evaluate the utility of senolytic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F1167-F1176
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020


  • Kidney
  • Microvascular injury
  • Senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Urology


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