Table_2_Senescence-Associated Molecules and Tumor-Immune-Interactions as Prognostic Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer.pdf (33.86 kB)

Table_2_Senescence-Associated Molecules and Tumor-Immune-Interactions as Prognostic Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer.pdf

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posted on 2022-04-12, 04:33 authored by Franziska Kellers, Aurélie Fernandez, Björn Konukiewitz, Mario Schindeldecker, Katrin E. Tagscherer, Achim Heintz, Moritz Jesinghaus, Wilfried Roth, Sebastian Foersch
Background and Aims

The initiation of cellular senescence in response to protumorigenic stimuli counteracts malignant progression in (pre)malignant cells. Besides arresting proliferation, cells entering this terminal differentiation state adopt a characteristic senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) which initiates alterations to their microenvironment and effects immunosurveillance of tumorous lesions. However, some effects mediated by senescent cells contribute to disease progression. Currently, the exploration of senescent cells' impact on the tumor microenvironment and the evaluation of senescence as possible target in colorectal cancer (CRC) therapy demand reliable detection of cellular senescence in vivo. Therefore, specific immunohistochemical biomarkers are required. Our aim is to analyze the clinical implications of senescence detection in colorectal carcinoma and to investigate the interactions of senescent tumor cells and their immune microenvironment in vitro and in vivo.


Senescence was induced in CRC cell lines by low-dose-etoposide treatment and confirmed by Senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-GAL) staining and fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis. Co-cultures of senescent cells and immune cells were established. Multiple cell viability assays, electron microscopy and live cell imaging were conducted. Immunohistochemical (IHC) markers of senescence and immune cell subtypes were studied in a cohort of CRC patients by analyzing a tissue micro array (TMA) and performing digital image analysis. Results were compared to disease-specific survival (DSS) and progression-free survival (PFS).


Varying expression of senescence markers in tumor cells was associated with in- or decreased survival of CRC patients. Proximity analysis of p21-positive senescent tumor cells and cytotoxic T cells revealed a significantly better prognosis for patients in which these cell types have the possibility to directly interact. In vitro, NK-92 cells (mimicking natural killer T cells) or TALL-104 cells (mimicking both cytotoxic T cells and natural killer T cells) led to dose-dependent specific cytotoxicity in >75 % of the senescent CRC cells but <20 % of the proliferating control CRC cells. This immune cell-mediated senolysis seems to be facilitated via direct cell-cell contact inducing apoptosis and granule exocytosis.


Counteracting tumorigenesis, cellular senescence is of significant relevance in CRC. We show the dual role of senescence bearing both beneficial and malignancy-promoting potential in vivo. Absence as well as exceeding expression of senescence markers are associated with bad prognosis in CRC. The antitumorigenic potential of senescence induction is determined by tumor micromilieu and immune cell-mediated elimination of senescent cells.