Spetz JKE, Florido MHC, Fraser CS, Qin X, Choiniere J, Yu SJ, Singh R, Friesen M, Rubin LL, Salem JE, Moslehi JJ, Sarosiek KA. 2022. Heightened apoptotic priming of vascular cells across tissues and life span predisposes them to cancer therapy-induced toxicities. Science advances. 8(45):eabn6579. Pubmed: 36351019 DOI:10.1126/sciadv.abn6579


Although major organ toxicities frequently arise in patients treated with cytotoxic or targeted cancer therapies, the mechanisms that drive them are poorly understood. Here, we report that vascular endothelial cells (ECs) are more highly primed for apoptosis than parenchymal cells across many adult tissues. Consequently, ECs readily undergo apoptosis in response to many commonly used anticancer agents including cytotoxic and targeted drugs and are more sensitive to ionizing radiation and BH3 mimetics than parenchymal cells in vivo. Further, using differentiated isogenic human induced pluripotent stem cell models of ECs and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), we find that these vascular cells exhibit distinct drug toxicity patterns, which are linked to divergent therapy-induced vascular toxicities in patients. Collectively, our results demonstrate that vascular cells are highly sensitive to apoptosis-inducing stress across life span and may represent a "weakest link" vulnerability in multiple tissues for development of toxicities.

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Lee Rubin investigates the key molecular mediators of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, with the ultimate goal of finding effective preclinical therapeutic candidates.

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