Reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the skin is among the highest compared to other organs, and a clear correlation exists between ROS production and skin aging. Many attempts are underway to reduce oxidative stress in the skin by topical treatment or supplementation with antioxidants/cosmeceuticals, and cultures of human dermal fibroblasts (HDF) are widely used for these studies. Here, we examined the influence of oxygen tension on cell aging in HDF and how this impacted ROS production, the enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidant response system, and the efficacy of this defense system in limiting DNA damage and in modulating gene expression of proteins involved in the extracellular matrix, linked to skin aging. We investigated a selection of parameters that represent and reflect the behavior of cellular responses to aging and oxygen tension. Serial passaging of HDF under normoxia (21%) and hypoxia (5%) leads to cell aging as confirmed by β-galactosidase activity, p16 expression, and proliferation rate. However, in HDF under 21% O2, markers of aging were significantly increased compared to those under 5% O2 at matched cell passages despite having lower levels of intracellular ROS and higher levels of CoQ10, total GSH, SOD1, SOD3, and mitochondrial superoxide anion. miRNA-181a, which is known to be upregulated in HDF senescence, was also analyzed, and indeed, its expression was significantly increased in old cells at 21% O2 compared to those at 5% O2. Upregulation of MMP1 and downregulation of COL1A1 along with increased DNA damage were also observed under 21% O2 vs 5% O2. The data highlight that chronic exposure to atmospheric 21% O2 is able to trigger hormetic adaptive responses in HDF that however fail, in the long term, to prevent cellular aging. This information could be useful in further investigating molecular mechanisms involved in adaptation of skin fibroblasts to oxidative stress and may provide useful hints in addressing antiaging strategies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology