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J Biomol Screen. 2009 Aug;14(7):853-8. doi: 10.1177/1087057109340314. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

A high-throughput method to identify novel senescence-inducing compounds.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53792, USA.


Cellular senescence is a persistently growth-arrested phenotype in normal and transformed cells induced by noncytotoxic stress. Cytostasis as a method of cancer treatment has recently generated significant interest. Research into the induction of cellular senescence as cancer therapy has been hindered by a lack of compounds that efficiently induce this response. The authors describe a semiautomated high-throughput method to identify library compounds that induce senescence using prostate cancer cells cultured in 96-well plates. Primary hits are identified by low cell numbers after 3 days in culture, measured by Hoechst 33342 fluorescence. A secondary visual assessment of senescence-associated beta-galactosidase staining and cellular morphology in the same wells distinguishes senescence from quiescence, apoptosis, and other false positives. This method was used to screen a 4160-compound library of known bioactive compounds and natural products at a 10-microM dose. Candidate compounds were further selected based on persistent growth arrest after drug removal and increased expression of previously described senescence marker genes. Four lead compounds not previously associated with senescence were identified for further investigation. This is the first successful assay to identify novel agents from compound libraries based on senescence induction in cancer cells.

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