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Bethania Mongi-Bragato, Ezequiel Grondona, Liliana del Valle Sosa, Natacha Zlocowski, Ana Clara Venier, Alicia Inés Torres, Alexandra Latini, Rodrigo Bainy Leal, Silvina Gutiérrez, and Ana Lucía De Paul

The molecular mechanisms underlying the capability of pituitary tumours to avoid unregulated cell proliferation are still not well understood. However, the NF-κB transcription factor, which is able to modulate not only cellular senescence but also tumour progression, has emerged as a targeted candidate. This work was focused on the NF-κB role in cellular senescence during the progression of experimental pituitary tumours. Also, the contribution of the signalling pathways in senescence-associated NF-κB activation and the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and pro-survival-NF-κB target genes transcription were analysed. A robust NF-κB activation was seen at E20–E40 of tumour development accompanied by a marked SA-β-Gal co-reactivity in the tumour pituitary parenchyma. The induction of TNFα and IL1-β as specific SASP-related NF-κB target genes as well as Bcl-2 and Bcl-xl pro-survival genes was shown to be accompanied by increases in the p-p38 MAPK protein levels, starting at the E20 stage and strengthening from 40 to 60 days of tumour growth. It is noteworthy that p-JNK displayed a similar pattern of activation during pituitary tumour development, while p-AKT and p-ERK1/2 were downregulated. By employing a pharmacological strategy to abrogate NF-κB activity, we demonstrated a marked reduction in SA-β-Gal activity and a slight decrease in Ki67 immunopositive cells after NF-κB blockade. These results suggest a central role for NF-κB in the regulation of the cellular senescence programme, leading to the strikingly benign intrinsic nature of pituitary adenomas.