Age-dependent oxidation of extracellular cysteine/cystine redox state (Eh(Cys/CySS)) in mouse lung fibroblasts is mediated by a decline in Slc7a11 expression

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Aging is associated with progressive oxidation of the extracellular environment. The redox state of human plasma, defined by the concentrations of cysteine (Cys) and cystine (CySS), becomes more oxidized as we age. Recently, we showed that fibroblasts isolated from the lungs of young and old mice retain this differential phenotype; old cells produce and maintain a more oxidizing extracellular redox potential (Eh(Cys/CySS)) than young cells. Microarray analysis identified down-regulation of Slc7a11, the light subunit of the CySS/glutamate transporter, as a potential mediator of age-related oxidation in these cells. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the mechanistic link between Slc7a11 expression and extracellular Eh(Cys/CySS). Sulforaphane treatment or overexpression of Slc7a11 was used to increase Slc7a11 in lung fibroblasts from old mice, and sulfasalazine treatment or siRNA-mediated knock down was used to decrease Slc7a11 in young fibroblasts. Slc7a11 mRNA levels were measured by real-time PCR, Slc7a11 activity was determined by measuring the rate of glutamate release, Cys, CySS, glutathione (GSH) and its disulfide (GSSG) were measured by HPLC, and Eh(Cys/CySS) was calculated from the Nernst equation. The results showed that both Eh(Cys/CySS) and Eh(GSH/GSSG) were more oxidized in the conditioned media of old cells than in young cells. Up-regulation of Slc7a11 via overexpression or sulforaphane treatment restored extracellular Eh(Cys/CySS) in cultures of old cells, whereas down-regulation reproduced the oxidizing Eh(Cys/CySS) in young cells. Only sulforaphane treatment was able to increase total GSH and restore Eh(GSH/GSSG), whereas overexpression, knock down and sulfasalazine had no effect on these parameters. In addition, inhibition of GSH synthesis with buthionine sulfoximine had no effect on the ability of cells to restore their extracellular redox potential in response to an oxidative challenge. In conclusion, our study reveals Slc7a11 is the key regulator of age-dependent changes in extracellular Eh(Cys/CySS) in primary mouse lung fibroblasts, and its effects are not dependent on GSH synthesis.

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