GSK-3α is a central regulator of age-related pathologies in mice

Academic Article


  • Aging is regulated by conserved signaling pathways. The glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) family of serine/ threonine kinases regulates several of these pathways, but the role of GSK-3 in aging is unknown. Herein, we demonstrate premature death and acceleration of age-related pathologies in the Gsk3a global KO mouse. KO mice developed cardiac hypertrophy and contractile dysfunction as well as sarcomere disruption and striking sarcopenia in cardiac and skeletal muscle, a classical finding in aging. We also observed severe vacuolar degeneration of myofibers and large tubular aggregates in skeletal muscle, consistent with impaired clearance of insoluble cellular debris. Other organ systems, including gut, liver, and the skeletal system, also demonstrated age-related pathologies. Mechanistically, we found marked activation of mTORC1 and associated suppression of autophagy markers in KO mice. Loss of GSK-3α, either by pharmacologic inhibition or Gsk3a gene deletion, suppressed autophagy in fibroblasts. mTOR inhibition rescued this effect and reversed the established pathologies in the striated muscle of the KO mouse. Thus, GSK-3α is a critical regulator of mTORC1, autophagy, and aging. In its absence, aging/senescence is accelerated in multiple tissues. Strategies to maintain GSK-3α activity and/or inhibit mTOR in the elderly could retard the appearance of age-related pathologies.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhou J; Freeman TA; Ahmad F; Shang X; Mangano E; Gao E; Farber J; Wang Y; Ma XL; Woodgett J
  • Start Page

  • 1821
  • End Page

  • 1832
  • Volume

  • 123
  • Issue

  • 4