Senescence Connects Autophagy Deficiency to Inflammation and Tumor Progression in the Liver

Nazmul Huda, Bilon Khambu, Gang Liu, Hirokazu Nakatsumi, Shengmin Yan, Xiaoyun Chen, Michelle Ma, Zheng Dong, Keiichi I. Nakayama, Xiao Ming Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Cellular senescence frequently is present in injured livers. The induction mechanism and the pathologic role are not always clear. We aimed to understand the dynamics of senescence induction and progression, and the mechanism responsible for the pathology using a mouse model that disables the essential process of autophagy. Methods: Mice deficient in key autophagy genes Atg7 or Atg5 in the liver were used. Senescence was measured using established cellular and molecular signatures. The mechanistic roles of nuclear factor erythroid 2 (NRF2), forkhead box K1, and C-C motif chemokine receptor 2 (CCR2) were assessed using mouse genetic models. Liver functions, pathology, and tumor development were measured using biochemical and histologic approaches. Results: Inducible deletion of Atg7 rapidly up-regulated cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors independently of injury and induced senescence-associated β-galactosidase activities and senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Sustained activation of NRF2 was the major factor causing senescence by mediating oxidative DNA damage and up-regulating C-C motif chemokine ligand 2, a key component of autophagy-related SASP, via the NRF2–forkhead box K1 axis. Senescence was responsible for hepatic inflammation through CCR2-mediated recruitment of CD11b+ monocytes and CD3+ T cells. The CCR2-mediated process in turn enhanced senescence and SASP by up-regulating cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors and chemokines. Thus, senescence and inflammation can mutually augment each other, forming an amplification loop for both events. The CCR2-mediated process also modulated liver injury and tumor progression at the later stage of autophagy deficiency–related pathology. Conclusions: These results provide the insight that hepatic senescence can occur early in the disease process, triggers inflammation and is enhanced by inflammation, and has long-term effects on liver injury and tumor progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-355
Number of pages23
JournalCellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • CCR2
  • CD11b
  • CDK Inhibitors
  • Chemokines
  • Liver Injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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