Excessive DNA damage induced by ionising radiation (IR) to normal tissue cells is known to trigger cellular senescence, a process termed stress-induced premature senescence (SIPS). SIPS is often accompanied by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and this is reported to be important for the initiation and maintenance of SIPS. However, the source of ROS during SIPS after IR and their significance in radiation-induced normal tissue damage remain elusive. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that the NADPH oxidase (NOX) family of proteins mediates ROS production in SIPS-induced cells after IR and plays a role in SIPS-associated biological events. X-irradiation of primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) resulted in cellular senescence and the concomitant increase of intracellular ROS. Among all six murine NOX isoforms (NOX1–4 and DUOX1/2), only NOX4 was detectable under basal conditions and was upregulated following IR. In addition, radiation-induced ROS production was diminished by genetic or pharmacological inhibition of NOX4. Meanwhile, NOX4 deficiency did not affect the induction of cellular senescence after IR. Furthermore, the migration of human monocytic U937 cells to the culture medium collected from irradiated MEFs was significantly reduced by NOX4 inhibition, suggesting that NOX4 promotes the recruitment of inflammatory cells. Collectively, our findings imply that NOX4 mediates ROS production in radiation-induced senescent cells and contributes to normal tissue damage after IR via the recruitment of inflammatory cells and the exacerbation of tissue inflammation.
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