TNF-α/IFN-γ synergy amplifies senescence-associated inflammation and SARS-CoV-2 receptor expression via hyper-activated JAK/STAT1

Renuka Kandhaya-Pillai, Xiaomeng Yang, Tamar Tchkonia, George M. Martin, James L Kirkland, Junko Oshima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older age and underlying conditions such as diabetes/obesity or immunosuppression are leading host risk factors for developing severe complications from COVID-19 infection. The pathogenesis of COVID-19-related cytokine storm, tissue damage, and fibrosis may be interconnected with fundamental aging processes, including dysregulated immune responses and cellular senescence. Here, we examined effects of key cytokines linked to cellular senescence on expression of SARS-CoV-2 viral entry receptors. We found exposure of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) to the inflammatory cytokines, TNF-α + IFN-γ or a cocktail of TNF-α + IFN-γ + IL-6, increased expression of ACE2/DPP4, accentuated the pro-inflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), and decreased cellular proliferative capacity, consistent with progression towards a cellular senescence-like state. IL-6 by itself failed to induce substantial effects on viral entry receptors or SASP-related genes, while synergy between TNF-α and IFN-γ initiated a positive feedback loop via hyper-activation of the JAK/STAT1 pathway, causing SASP amplification. Breaking the interactive loop between senescence and cytokine secretion with JAK inhibitor ruxolitinib or antiviral drug remdesivir prevented hyper-inflammation, normalized SARS-CoV-2 entry receptor expression, and restored HUVECs proliferative capacity. This loop appears to underlie cytokine-mediated viral entry receptor activation and links with senescence and hyper-inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13646
JournalAging Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • ACE2
  • COVID-19
  • cytokines
  • DPP4
  • inflammation
  • SARS-COV-2 receptor
  • senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'TNF-α/IFN-γ synergy amplifies senescence-associated inflammation and SARS-CoV-2 receptor expression via hyper-activated JAK/STAT1'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this