Telomerase therapy reverses vascular senescence and extends lifespan in progeria mice

Anahita Mojiri, Brandon K. Walther, Chongming Jiang, Gianfranco Matrone, Rhonda Holgate, Qiu Xu, Elisa Morales, Guangyu Wang, Jianhua Gu, Rongfu Wang, John P. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Aims: Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome (HGPS) is an accelerated ageing syndrome associated with premature vascular disease and death due to heart attack and stroke. In HGPS a mutation in lamin A (progerin) alters nuclear morphology and gene expression. Current therapy increases the lifespan of these children only modestly. Thus, greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of HGPS is required to improve therapy. Endothelial cells (ECs) differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from these patients exhibit hallmarks of senescence including replication arrest, increased expression of inflammatory markers, DNA damage, and telomere erosion. We hypothesized that correction of shortened telomeres may reverse these measures of vascular ageing. Methods and results: We generated ECs from iPSCs belonging to children with HGPS and their unaffected parents. Telomerase mRNA (hTERT) was used to treat HGPS ECs. Endothelial morphology and functions were assessed, as well as proteomic and transcriptional profiles with attention to inflammatory markers, DNA damage, and EC identity genes. In a mouse model of HGPS, we assessed the effects of lentiviral transfection of mTERT on measures of senescence, focusing on the EC phenotype in various organs. hTERT treatment of human HGPS ECs improved replicative capacity; restored endothelial functions such as nitric oxide generation, acetylated low-density lipoprotein uptake and angiogenesis; and reduced the elaboration of inflammatory cytokines. In addition, hTERT treatment improved cellular and nuclear morphology, in association with a normalization of the transcriptional profile, effects that may be mediated in part by a reduction in progerin expression and an increase in sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). Progeria mice treated with mTERT lentivirus manifested similar improvements, with a reduction in inflammatory and DNA damage markers and increased SIRT1 in their vasculature and other organs. Furthermore, mTERT therapy increased the lifespan of HGPS mice. Conclusion: Vascular rejuvenation using telomerase mRNA is a promising approach for progeria and other age-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4352-4369
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean heart journal
Issue number42
StatePublished - Nov 7 2021


  • Ageing
  • Endothelium
  • Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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