Received: August 16, 2019; Revised: October 22, 2019; Accepted: October 22, 2019
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Aging is one of the risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases. During the progression of cellular senescence, cells enter a state of irreversible growth arrest and display resistance to apoptosis. As a flavonoid, quercetin induces apoptosis in various cells. Accordingly, we investigated the relationship between quercetin-induced apoptosis and the inhibition of cellular senescence, and determined the mechanism of oxidative stress-induced vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) senescence. In cultured VSMCs, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) dose-dependently induced senescence, which was associated with increased numbers of senescence-associated β-galactosidase-positive cells, decreased expression of SMP30, and activation of p53-p21 and p16 pathways. Along with senescence, expression of the antiapoptotic protein Bcl-2 was observed to increase and the levels of proteins related to the apoptosis pathway were observed to decrease. Quercetin induced apoptosis through the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase. This action led to the alleviation of oxidative stress-induced VSMC senescence. Furthermore, the inhibition of AMPK activation with compound C and siRNA inhibited apoptosis and aggravated VSMC senescence by reversing p53-p21 and p16 pathways. These results suggest that senescent VSMCs are resistant to apoptosis and quercetin-induced apoptosis attenuated the oxidative stress-induced senescence through activation of AMPK. Therefore, induction of apoptosis by polyphenols such as quercetin may be worthy of attention for its anti-aging effects.