Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1; MIM #160900) is an autosomal dominant disorder, clinically characterized by progressive muscular weakness and multisystem degeneration. The broad phenotypes observed in patients with DM1 resemble the appearance of an accelerated aging process. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these phenotypes remain largely unknown. Transcriptomic analysis of fibroblasts derived from patients with DM1 and healthy individuals revealed a decrease in cell cycle activity, cell division, and DNA damage response in DM1, all of which related to the accumulation of cellular senescence. The data from transcriptome analyses were corroborated in human myoblasts and blood samples, as well as in mouse and Drosophila models of the disease. Serial passage studies in vitro confirmed the accelerated increase in senescence and the acquisition of a senescence-associated secretory phenotype in DM1 fibroblasts, whereas the DM1 Drosophila model showed reduced longevity and impaired locomotor activity. Moreover, functional studies highlighted the impact of BMI1 and downstream p16INK4A/RB and ARF/p53/p21CIP pathways in DM1-associated cellular phenotypes. Importantly, treatment with the senolytic compounds Quercetin, Dasatinib, or Navitoclax reversed the accelerated aging phenotypes in both DM1 fibroblasts in vitro and in Drosophila in vivo. Our results identify the accumulation of senescence as part of DM1 pathophysiology and, therefore, demonstrate the efficacy of senolytic compounds in the preclinical setting.


Mikel García-Puga, Ander Saenz-Antoñanzas, Gorka Gerenu, Alex Arrieta-Legorburu, Roberto Fernández-Torrón, Miren Zulaica, Amets Saenz, Joseba Elizazu, Gisela Nogales-Gadea, Shahinaz M. Gadalla, Marcos J. Araúzo-Bravo, Adolfo López de Munain, Ander Matheu


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