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Pleiotropic Effects of Tocotrienols and Quercetin on Cellular Senescence: Introducing the Perspective of Senolytic Effects of Phytochemicals

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The possibility to target cellular senescence with natural bioactive substances open interesting therapeutic perspective in cancer and aging. Engaging senescence response is suggested as a key component for therapeutic intervention in the eradication of cancer. At the same time, delaying senescence or even promote death of accumulating apoptosis-resistant senescent cells is proposed as a strategy to prevent age related diseases. Although these two desired outcome present an intrinsic dichotomy, there are examples of promising natural compounds that appear to satisfy all the requirements to develop senescence- targeted health promoting nutraceuticals. Tocotrienols (T3s) and quercetin (QUE), albeit belonging to different phytochemical classes, display similar and promising effects “in vitro” when tested in normal and cancer cells. Both compounds have been shown to induce senescence and promote apoptosis in a multitude of cancer lines. Conversely, they display senescence delaying activity in primary cells and rejuvenating effects in senescent cells. More recently, QUE has been shown to display senolytic effects in some primary senescent cells, likely as a consequence of its inhibitory effects on specific anti-apoptotic genes (i.e. PI3K and other kinases). Senolytic activity has not been tested for T3s but part of metabolic and apoptotic pathways affected by these compounds in cancer cells overlap with those of QUE. This suggests that the rejuvenating effects of T3s and QUE on pre-senescent and senescent primary cells might be the net results of a senolytic activity on senescent cells and a selective survival of a sub-population of non-senescent cells in the culture. The meaning of this hypothesis in the context of adjuvant therapy of cancer and preventive anti-aging strategies with QUE or T3s is discussed.
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Keywords: Cellular senescence; Nrf2; cancer; endoplasmic reticulum stress; quercetin; senolytic compounds; tocotrienols

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2016-03-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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