Cytosolic DNA initiates a vicious circle of aging-related endothelial inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction via STING: the inhibitory effect of Cilostazol

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2024 Apr 30. doi: 10.1038/s41401-024-01281-0. Online ahead of print.


Endothelial senescence, aging-related inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction are prominent features of vascular aging and contribute to the development of aging-associated vascular disease. Accumulating evidence indicates that DNA damage occurs in aging vascular cells, especially in endothelial cells (ECs). However, the mechanism of EC senescence has not been completely elucidated, and so far, there is no specific drug in the clinic to treat EC senescence and vascular aging. Here we show that various aging stimuli induce nuclear DNA and mitochondrial damage in ECs, thus facilitating the release of cytoplasmic free DNA (cfDNA), which activates the DNA-sensing adapter protein STING. STING activation led to a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), thereby releasing pro-aging cytokines and cfDNA to further exacerbate mitochondrial damage and EC senescence, thus forming a vicious circle, all of which can be suppressed by STING knockdown or inhibition. Using next-generation RNA sequencing, we demonstrate that STING activation stimulates, whereas STING inhibition disrupts pathways associated with cell senescence and SASP. In vivo studies unravel that endothelial-specific Sting deficiency alleviates aging-related endothelial inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction and prevents the development of atherosclerosis in mice. By screening FDA-approved vasoprotective drugs, we identified Cilostazol as a new STING inhibitor that attenuates aging-related endothelial inflammation both in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrated that Cilostazol significantly inhibited STING translocation from the ER to the Golgi apparatus during STING activation by targeting S162 and S243 residues of STING. These results disclose the deleterious effects of a cfDNA-STING-SASP-cfDNA vicious circle on EC senescence and atherogenesis and suggest that the STING pathway is a promising therapeutic target for vascular aging-related diseases. A proposed model illustrates the central role of STING in mediating a vicious circle of cfDNA-STING-SASP-cfDNA to aggravate age-related endothelial inflammation and mitochondrial damage.

PMID:38689095 | DOI:10.1038/s41401-024-01281-0