Stress and ageing

Understanding the mechanisms of ageing, from cells to humans

Principal Investigator

Dr. Florence Chainiaux-Debacq

UNamur, Department of biology, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Biology (URBC)

Member of the Namur Nanosafety Center (NNC)

Member of the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Aging (GRIVES)

Research portal UNamur  |  ORCID  |  ResearchGate  | LinkedIn

Expertise and research interests

Dr. Florence Chainiaux leads a research group devoted to the understanding of the biological processes that govern ageing. Her group, called SAGE for "Stress and AGEing", focuses on the interconnection between stress and cellular senescence, a phenomenon defined as the irreversible arrest of normally dividing cells. Florence pursued the work initiated by her colleague Prof. Olivier Toussaint. Their research previously showed the impact of oxidative stress and/or DNA-damaging agents (H2O2, t-BHP, UVB...) on the premature appearance of the senescent phenotype in human cells, a concept called "Stress Induced Premature Senescence (SIPS)". As the skin represents an ideal model to study the impact of environmental stress on its ageing, in vitro experiments are carried out on human skin cells, including epidermal keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts. The SAGE group works therefore in close collaboration with the research group of Prof. Yves Poumay, which aims at developing an in vitro skin model of senescence. In parallel, Dr. Florence Chainiaux has gained an expertise in the in vitro evaluation of the toxicity of nanoparticles.
Besides basic research, Dr. Florence Chainiaux is also partner of several clinical projects around human ageing (search for biomarkers associated with frailty, longevity and age) and more recently, around caregiving (search for biomarkers predicting the impact of caregiving on the caregiver’s health). In this context, Florence maintains a longstanding and fruitful collaboration with Prof. Marie de Saint-Hubert from the Department of Geriatrics of the CHU UCL Namur and develops a multidisciplinary approach with colleagues from UNamur involved in the SATRAP project and in the research group GRIVES.

Group members

PhD students: Emilie Bauwens, Joëlle Giroud and Joline Millen

Research projects

  • ONGOING Investigating the impact of ambient air pollution during gestation on placental senescence. Ongoing PhD thesis by Joline Millen. Joint PhD programme at UNamur (Dr. Florence Chainiaux) and UHasselt (Prof. Tim Nawrot)
  • ONGOING Discovering new pathways/targets with senolityc/senomorphic properties that would limit senescence/ageing. Ongoing PhD thesis by Joëlle Giroud. Joint PhD programme at UNamur (Dr. Florence Chainiaux) and Institut Pasteur de Lille (Dr. Olivier Pluquet) 
  • ONGOING Development of an UVB-stress induced senescence model in keratinocytes; Molecular basis of communication between senescent keratinocytes and cancer cells. Ongoing PhD thesis by Emilie Bauwens. Under the supervision of Dr. Florence Chainiaux, UNamur, NARILIS

Selected publications

Warnon C, Bouhjar K, Ninane N, Verhoyen M, Fattaccioli A, Fransolet M, Lambert de Rouvroit C, Poumay Y, Piel G, Mottet D, Debacq-Chainiaux F. HDAC2 and 7 down-regulation induces senescence in dermal fibroblasts. Aging (Albany NY). 2021 Jul 12;13.

Luyten LJ, Dieu M, Demazy C, Fransolet M, Nawrot TS, Renard P, Debacq-Chainiaux F. Optimization of label-free nano LC-MS/MS analysis of the placental proteome. Placenta. 2020 Sep 14;101:159-162.

Potier F, Degryse JM, Bihin B, Debacq-Chainiaux F, Charlet-Renard C, Martens H, de Saint-Hubert M. Health and frailty among older spousal caregivers: an observational cohort study in Belgium. BMC Geriatr. 2018 Nov 26;18(1):291.

Toutfaire M, Dumortier E, Fattaccioli A, Van Steenbrugge M, Proby CM, Debacq-Chainiaux F. Unraveling the interplay between senescent dermal fibroblasts and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma cell lines at different stages of tumorigenesis. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2018 Mar 14;98:113-126.

Mound A, Lozanova V, Warnon C, Hermant M, Robic J, Guere C, Vie K, Lambert de Rouvroit C, Tyteca D, Debacq-Chainiaux F, Poumay Y. Non-senescent keratinocytes organize in plasma membrane submicrometric lipid domains enriched in sphingomyelin and involved in re-epithelialization. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Sep;1862(9):958-971.