Experimental gerontology

Inadequate mito-biogenesis in primary dermal fibroblasts from old humans is associated with impairment of PGC1A-independent stimulation.

PMID 24699405


Extrinsic skin ageing converges on the dermis, a post-mitotic tissue compartment consisting of extracellular matrix and long-lived fibroblasts prone to damage accumulation and maladaptation. Aged human fibroblasts exhibit mitochondrial and nuclear dysfunctions, which may be a cause or consequence of ageing. We report on a systematic study of human dermal fibroblasts retrieved from female donors aged 20-67 years and analysed ex vivo at low population doubling precluding replicative senescence. According to gene set enrichment analysis of genome wide array data, the most prominent age-associated change of the transcriptome was decreased expression of mitochondrial genes. Consistent with that, mitochondrial content and cell proliferation declined with donor age. This was associated with upregulation of AMP-dependent protein kinase (AMPK), increased mRNA levels of PPARγ-coactivator 1α (PGC1A) and decreased levels of NAD(+)-dependent deacetylase sirtuin 1. In the old cells the PGC1A-mediated mito-biogenetic response to direct AMPK-stimulation by AICAR was undiminished, while the PGC1A-independent mito-biogenetic response to starvation was attenuated and accompanied by increased ROS-production. In summary, these observations suggest an age-associated decline in PGC1A-independent mito-biogenesis, which is insufficiently compensated by upregulation of the AMPK/PGC1A-axis leading under baseline conditions to decreased mitochondrial content and reductive overload of residual respiratory capacity.