The Journal Club returns August 25th at 13:00 EDT live on our Facebook page where Dr. Oliver Medvedik will be taking a look at the new study by Dr. Maria Blasco from the CNIO, which shows that telomerase therapy can address fibrosis in normally aged mice and not just mouse models of the disease.
Short/dysfunctional telomeres are at the origin of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in patients mutant for telomere maintenance genes. However, it remains unknown whether physiological aging leads to short telomeres in the lung, thus leading to IPF with aging. Here, we find that physiological aging in wild-type mice leads to telomere shortening and a reduced proliferative potential of alveolar type II cells and club cells, increased cellular senescence and DNA damage, increased fibroblast activation and collagen deposits, and impaired lung biophysics, suggestive of a fibrosis-like pathology. Treatment of both wild-type and telomerase-deficient mice with telomerase gene therapy prevented the onset of lung profibrotic pathologies. These findings suggest that short telomeres associated with physiological aging are at the origin of IPF and that a potential treatment for IPF based on telomerase activation would be of interest not only for patients with telomerase mutations but also for sporadic cases of IPF associated with physiological aging.