Thioredoxin and aging: What have we learned from the survival studies?
Our laboratory has conducted the first systematic survival studies to examine the biological effects of the antioxidant protein thioredoxin (Trx) on aging and age-related pathology. Our studies with C57BL/6 mice overexpressing Trx1 [Tg(act-TRX1)+/0 and Tg(TXN)+/0] demonstrated a slight extension in early lifespan compared to wild-type (WT) mice; however, no significant effects were observed in the later part of life. Overexpression of Trx2 in male C57BL/6 mice [Tg(TXN2)+/0] demonstrated a slightly extended lifespan compared to WT mice. The pathology results from two lines of Trx1 transgenic mice showed a slightly higher incidence of age-related neoplastic diseases compared to WT mice, and a slight increase in the severity of lymphoma, a major neoplastic disease, was observed in Trx2 transgenic mice. Together these studies indicate that Trx overexpression in one compartment of the cell (cytosol or mitochondria alone) has marginal beneficial effects on lifespan. On the other hand, down-regulation of Trx in either the cytosol (Trx1KO) or mitochondria (Trx2KO) showed no significant changes in lifespan compared to WT mice, despite several changes in pathophysiology of these knockout mice. When we examined the synergetic effects of overexpressing Trx1 and Trx2, TXNTg x TXN2Tg mice showed a significantly shorter lifespan with accelerated cancer development compared to WT mice. These results suggest that synergetic effects of Trx overexpression in both the cytosol and mitochondria on aging are deleterious and the development of age-related cancer is accelerated. On the other hand, we have recently found that down-regulation of Trx in both the cytosol and mitochondria in Trx1KO x Trx2KO mice has beneficial effects on aging. The results generated from our lab along with our ongoing study using Trx1KO x Trx2KO mice could elucidate the key pathways (i.e., apoptosis and autophagy) that prevent accumulation of damaged cells and genomic instability leading to reduced cancer formation.
Key Words: Thioredoxin, transgenic mouse, knockout mouse, cancer, lifespan, aging