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Extracellular superoxide dismutase is a major antioxidant in human fibroblasts and slows telomere shortening

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Thomas von Zglinicki, Dr Gabriele Saretzki


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There is good evidence that telomere shortening acts as a biological clock in human fibroblasts, limiting the number of population doublings a culture can achieve. Oxidative stress also limits the growth potential of human cells, and recent data show that the effect of mild oxidative stress is mediated by a stress-related increased rate of telomere shortening. Thus, fibroblast strains have donor-specific antioxidant defense, telomere shortening rate, and growth potential. We used low-density gene expression array analysis of fibroblast strains with different antioxidant potentials and telomere shortening rates to identify gene products responsible for these differences. Extracellular superoxide dismutase was identified as the strongest candidate, a correlation that was confirmed by Northern blotting. Over-expression of this gene in human fibroblasts with low antioxidant capacity increased total cellular superoxide dismutase activity, decreased the intracellular peroxide content, slowed the telomere shortening rate, and elongated the life span of these cells under normoxia and hyperoxia. These results identify extracellular superoxide dismutase as an important antioxidant gene product in human fibroblasts, confirm the causal role of oxidative stress for telomere shortening, and strongly suggest that the senescence-like arrest under mild oxidative stress is telomere-driven.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Serra V, Von Zglinicki T, Lorenz M, Saretzki G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Biological Chemistry

Year: 2003

Volume: 278

Issue: 9

Pages: 6824-6830

ISSN (print): 0021-9258

ISSN (electronic): 1083-351X

Publisher: American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M207939200

PubMed id: 12475988


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