Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder associated with obesity. Emerging evidence suggest that OSA increases the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality partly via accelerating the process of cellular aging. Thus, we sought to examine the effects of intermittent hypoxia (IH), a hallmark of OSA, on senescence in human white preadipocytes. We demonstrate that chronic IH is associated with an increased generation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species along with increased prevalence of cells with nuclear localization of γH2AX & p16. A higher prevalence of cells positive for senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity was also evident with chronic IH exposure. Intervention with aspirin, atorvastatin or renin-angiotensin system (RAS) inhibitors effectively attenuated IH-mediated senescence-like phenotype. Importantly, the validity of in vitro findings was confirmed by examination of the subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue which showed that OSA patients had a significantly higher percentage of cells with nuclear localization of γH2AX & p16 than non-OSA individuals (20.1 ± 10.8% vs. 10.3 ± 2.7%, Padjusted < 0.001). Furthermore, the frequency of dual positive γH2AX & p16 nuclei in adipose tissue of OSA patients receiving statin, aspirin, and/or RAS inhibitors was comparable to non-OSA individuals. This study identifies chronic IH as a trigger of senescence-like phenotype in preadipocytes. Together, our data suggest that OSA may be considered as a senescence-related disorder.
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