Diabetes mellitus (DM) affects the biology of multipotent cardiac stem/progenitor cells (CSCs) and adult myocardial regeneration. We assessed the hypothesis that senescence and senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) are main mechanisms of cardiac degenerative defect in DM. Accordingly, we tested whether ablation of senescent CSCs would rescue the cardiac regenerative/reparative defect imposed by DM. We obtained cardiac tissue from nonaged (50- to 64-year-old) patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and without DM (NDM) and postinfarct cardiomyopathy undergoing cardiac surgery. A higher reactive oxygen species production in T2DM was associated with an increased number of senescent/dysfunctional T2DM-human CSCs (hCSCs) with reduced proliferation, clonogenesis/spherogenesis, and myogenic differentiation versus NDM-hCSCs in vitro. T2DM-hCSCs showed a defined pathologic SASP. A combination of two senolytics, dasatinib (D) and quercetin (Q), cleared senescent T2DM-hCSCs in vitro, restoring their expansion and myogenic differentiation capacities. In a T2DM model in young mice, diabetic status per se (independently of ischemia and age) caused CSC senescence coupled with myocardial pathologic remodeling and cardiac dysfunction. D + Q treatment efficiently eliminated senescent cells, rescuing CSC function, which resulted in functional myocardial repair/regeneration, improving cardiac function in murine DM. In conclusion, DM hampers CSC biology, inhibiting CSCs’ regenerative potential through the induction of cellular senescence and SASP independently from aging. Senolytics clear senescence, abrogating the SASP and restoring a fully proliferative/differentiation-competent hCSC pool in T2DM with normalization of cardiac function.

F.M. and M.Sc. contributed equally to this study.

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.19098803.

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