Reed-Sternberg cells in Hodgkin's lymphoma present features of cellular senescence

J. Gopas, E. Stern, U. Zurgil, J. Ozer, A. Ben-Ari, G. Shubinsky, A. Braiman, R. Sinay, J. Ezratty, V. Dronov, S. Balachandran, D. Benharroch, E. Livneh

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26 Scopus citations


Hodgkin's Lymphoma (HL) is one of the most prevailing malignancies in young adults. Reed-Sternberg (RS) cells in HL have distinctive large cell morphology, are characteristic of the disease and their presence is essential for diagnosis. Enlarged cells are one of the hallmarks of senescence, but whether RS cells are senescent has not been previously investigated. Here we show that RS cells have characteristics of senescent cells; RS cells in HL biopsies specifically express the senescence markers and cell cycle inhibitors p21Cip1 and p16INK4a and are negative for the proliferation marker Ki-67, suggesting that these cells have ceased to proliferate. Moreover, the RS-like cells in HL lines, stained specifically for senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal). Oxidative stress promoted senescence in these cells as demonstrated by their staining for p21Cip1, p16INK4a, p53 and γH2AX. Senescent cells produce copious amounts of inflammatory cytokines termed 'senescence-associated secretory phenotype' (SASP), primarily regulated by Nuclear Factor κB (NF-κB). Indeed, we show that NF-κB activity and NF-κB-dependent cytokines production (e.g., IL-6, TNF-α, GM-CSF) were elevated in RS-like cells. Furthermore, NF-κB inhibitors, JSH-23 and curcumin reduced IL-6 secretion from RS-like cells. Thus, defining RS cells as senescent offers new insights on the origin of the proinflammatory microenvironment in HL.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2457
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number11
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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