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Mech Ageing Dev. 2008 May;129(5):261-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2008.01.004. Epub 2008 Jan 20.

Chronic treatment with N-acetyl-cystein delays cellular senescence in endothelial cells isolated from a subgroup of atherosclerotic patients.

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Department of Surgery, Research Center, Montreal Heart Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Endothelial senescence may contribute to the pathogenesis of age-related vascular disorders. Furthermore, chronic exposure to risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) accelerates the effects of chronological aging by generating stress-dependent damages, including oxidative stress, therefore promoting stress-induced premature senescence. Our objective was to determine whether a chronic treatment with an antioxidant (N-acetyl-cystein, NAC) could delay senescence of endothelial cells (EC) isolated and cultured from arterial segments of patients with severe coronary artery disease. If EC were considered as one population (n=26), chronic NAC treatment slightly shortened telomere attrition rate associated with senescence but did not significantly delay the onset of endothelial senescence. However, in a subgroup of NAC-treated EC (n=15) cellular senescence was significantly delayed, NAC decreased lipid peroxidation (HNE), activated the catalytic subunit of telomerase (hTERT) and inhibited telomere attrition. In contrast, in another subgroup of EC (n=11) characterized by initial short telomeres, no effect of NAC on HNE and high levels of DNA damages, the antioxidant was not beneficial on senescence, suggesting an irreversible stress-dependent damage. In conclusion, chronic exposure to NAC can delay senescence of diseased EC via hTERT activation and transient telomere stabilization, unless oxidative stress-associated cell damage has become irreversible.

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