Increased organization of cytoskeleton accompanying the aging of human fibroblasts in vitro.
Fibroblastic cells of human origin have a limited lifespan in culture. One of the senescence-associated phenotypic changes is an increase in the abundance of cytoplasmic filaments. Human skin fibroblasts (strain 0011), derived from an 8-week-old male fetus, were passaged according to a predetermined schedule and examined at successive population doubling levels. In young rapidly growing cultures, fluorescence microscopy with NBD-Phallacidin shows a normal organization of the actin-containing fibers, microtubules and intermediate filaments, as has been described previously. At stages close to the end of the in vitro lifespan of the cell strain, large flat fibroblasts are the predominant cell type in culture. These large senescent fibroblasts contain numerous prominent actin fibers traversing the entire long axis of the cytoplasm. The fibers are often located adjacent to each other and appear to form a sheet on the ventral side of the cytoplasm. Staining of senescent cells with anti-tubulin antibody reveals an increase in the abundance of microtubules per cell and the distribution pattern is altered through the increase in the number of organization centers. Intermediate filaments are also more abundant and display tightly packed fibrillar sheets or bundles. Electron microscopic studies have confirmed the increased organization of microfilaments into bundles in senescent cells. These results suggest that during in vitro senescence, the increase in cell size is correlated with increased organization of the cytoskeleton. The presence of a rigid cytoskeletal structure may contribute in part to the inability of the senescent cell to replicate.
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