Cellular Senescence Promotes Adverse Effects of Chemotherapy and Cancer Relapse

Marco Demaria, Monique N. O'Leary, Jianhui Chang, Lijian Shao, Su Liu, Fatouma Alimirah, Kristin Koenig, Catherine Le, Natalia Mitin, Allison M. Deal, Shani Alston, Emmeline C. Academia, Sumner Kilmarx, Alexis Valdovinos, Boshi Wang, Alain de Bruin, Brian K. Kennedy, Simon Melov, Daohong Zhou, Norman E. SharplessHyman Muss, Judith Campisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

755 Citations (Scopus)


Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by irreversibly arresting cell proliferation. Senescent cells acquire a proinfl ammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Many genotoxic chemotherapies target proliferating cells nonspecifi cally, often with adverse reactions. In accord with prior work, we show that several chemotherapeutic drugs induce senescence of primary murine and human cells. Using a transgenic mouse that permits tracking and eliminating senescent cells, we show that therapy-induced senescent (TIS) cells persist and contribute to local and systemic infl ammation. Eliminating TIS cells reduced several short-and long-term effects of the drugs, including bone marrow suppression, cardiac dysfunction, cancer recurrence, and physical activity and strength. Consistent with our fi ndings in mice, the risk of chemotherapy-induced fatigue was signifi cantly greater in humans with increased expression of a senescence marker in T cells prior to chemotherapy. These fi ndings suggest that senescent cells can cause certain chemotherapy side effects, providing a new target to reduce the toxicity of anticancer treatments.

SIGNIFICANCE: Many genotoxic chemotherapies have debilitating side effects and also induce cellular senescence in normal tissues. The senescent cells remain chronically present where they can promote local and systemic infl ammation that causes or exacerbates many side effects of the chemotherapy. (C) 2017 AACR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalCancer discovery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2017


  • P16(INK4A)

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