What are senescent cells or zombie cells and why do they age us?

Damaged cells in our body that do not want to die and become “zombies” that damage our health and shorten our life

The study of aging has fascinated scientists for centuries. Moving forward, one concept has gained attention because of its critical role in this process: senescent cells. Often referred to as “zombie” cells, these cells have stopped dividing but resist cell death, accumulating in our tissues and contributing to aging and various diseases.

What are Senescent Cells?

Cells malfunction in response to various forms of damage or stress, such as: B. telomere dysfunction, DNA damage and oncogenic activation, into a state of senescence. This mechanism initially serves as a barrier against cancer and prevents damaged cells from dividing. However, these cells do not disappear; Instead, they secrete a variety of pro-inflammatory molecules, collectively called the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which can have deleterious effects on surrounding tissues.

The accumulation of senescent cells is associated with several hallmarks of aging and age-related diseases, such as decline in organ function, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases. SASP contributes to a chronic inflammatory environment and promotes tissue dysfunction and degeneration.

Important studies and current advances

Early studies, including the groundbreaking work of Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak, who won the Nobel Prize for their discovery of how telomeres protect chromosomes, laid the foundation for understanding the connection between cellular senescence and aging.

Research in mice has shown that removing senescent cells can extend lifespan and improve overall health. A key study by Jan van Deursen and his team published in Nature in 2014 showed that genetic elimination of senescent cells delayed the onset of age-related pathologies.

Read Also:  A 17-year-old NASA intern found this surprising planet

Strategies to eliminate and prevent the appearance of senescent cells

Senolytics are drugs that can selectively cause the death of senescent cells. Recent research has focused on identifying and testing senolytics. Some preliminary human studies indicate their potential to treat age-related diseases and improve the health and function of older people.

  • Senolytics: These compounds offer a promising strategy for eliminating senescent cells. Various senolytics have demonstrated efficacy in animal models and are in early phase human clinical trials.
  • change of lifestyle: Diet and exercise can influence the accumulation of senescent cells. Studies have shown that a low-calorie diet and regular exercise can reduce cell aging.

Future of research

Moving forward, the challenge is to translate these findings into effective therapies for humans. Identifying specific biomarkers of senescence is crucial for developing precise interventions. Furthermore, it is important to better understand the role of senescence in different tissues and pathological contexts to develop therapeutic strategies that improve health and longevity without compromising the protective functions of these cells.

Senescent cells play a key role in the drama of aging and disease. Although they originally emerged as a protective mechanism against cancer, over time their accumulation contributes to tissue disorders and the development of age-related diseases. Research in this area opens new avenues for interventions that could delay aging and improve quality of life in our final decades. The deeper we deepen our understanding of these “zombie” cells, the closer we come to unlocking the secrets of longevity.

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here