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Testosterone Antagonizes Doxorubicin-Induced Senescence of Cardiomyocytes.

Authors: Paola P. Altieri, Chiara C. Barisione, Edoardo E. Lazzarini, Anna A. Garuti, Gian Paolo GP. Bezante, Marco M. Canepa, Paolo P. Spallarossa, Carlo Gabriele CG. Tocchetti, Sveva S. Bollini, Claudio C. Brunelli, Pietro P. Ameri
Published: 01/08/2016, Journal of the American Heart Association


Chronic cardiotoxicity is less common in male than in female patients receiving doxorubicin and other anthracyclines at puberty and adolescence. We hypothesized that this sex difference might be secondary to distinct activities of sex hormones on cardiomyocyte senescence, which is thought to be central to the development of long-term anthracycline cardiomyopathy.

Methods And Results

H9c2 cells and neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes were exposed to doxorubicin with or without prior incubation with testosterone or 17β-estradiol, the main androgen and estrogen, respectively. Testosterone, but not 17β-estradiol, counteracted doxorubicin-elicited senescence. Downregulation of telomere binding factor 2, which has been pinpointed previously as being pivotal to doxorubicin-induced senescence, was also prevented by testosterone, as were p53 phosphorylation and accumulation. Pretreatment with the androgen receptor antagonist flutamide, the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase inhibitor LY294002, and the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor L-NG-nitroarginine methyl ester abrogated the reduction in senescence and the normalization of telomere binding factor 2 levels attained by testosterone. Consistently, testosterone enhanced the phosphorylation of AKT and nitric oxide synthase 3. In H9c2 cells, doxorubicin-stimulated senescence was still observed up to 21 days after treatment and increased further when cells were rechallenged with doxorubicin 14 days after the first exposure to mimic the schedule of anthracycline-containing chemotherapy. Remarkably, these effects were also inhibited by testosterone.


Testosterone protects cardiomyocytes against senescence caused by doxorubicin at least in part by modulating telomere binding factor 2 via a pathway involving the androgen receptor, phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase, AKT, and nitric oxide synthase 3. This is a potential mechanism by which pubescent and adolescent boys are less prone to chronic anthracycline cardiotoxicity than girls.

© 2016 The Authors. Published on behalf of the American Heart Association, Inc., by Wiley Blackwell.
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