Abstract

Senescent cells accumulate in fat with aging. We previously found genetic clearance of senescent cells from progeroid INK-ATTAC mice prevents lipodystrophy. Here we show that primary human senescent fat progenitors secrete activin A and directly inhibit adipogenesis in non-senescent progenitors. Blocking activin A partially restored lipid accumulation and expression of key adipogenic markers in differentiating progenitors exposed to senescent cells. Mouse fat tissue activin A increased with aging. Clearing senescent cells from 18-month-old naturally-aged INK-ATTAC mice reduced circulating activin A, blunted fat loss, and enhanced adipogenic transcription factor expression within 3 weeks. JAK inhibitor suppressed senescent cell activin A production and blunted senescent cell-mediated inhibition of adipogenesis. Eight weeks-treatment with ruxolitinib, an FDA-approved JAK1/2 inhibitor, reduced circulating activin A, preserved fat mass, reduced lipotoxicity, and increased insulin sensitivity in 22-month-old mice. Our study indicates targeting senescent cells or their products may alleviate age-related dysfunction of progenitors, adipose tissue, and metabolism.