As we age, our bodies are no longer effective at managing dysfunctional cells, contributing to weakened immune systems and aging processes. Researchers are exploring a cellular state known as cellular senescence to determine its role in aging. Please read this article to learn more about cellular senescence and aging.
Learn How Cellular Senescence Affects the Aging Process
What Is Cellular Senescence?
Cellular senescence is a cellular program in which damaged cells resist removal by apoptosis, a process of programmed cell death, and harm to nearby healthy cells. Cellular senescence is triggered by developmental signals or various kinds of stress. Cells may respond to such trigger factors by inducing repair, cell death, or senescence, depending on the factors’ type and intensity.
As cells play an essential role in all living organs in the human body, cellular senescence has been associated with many age-related diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis. Cellular senescence can also slow down tissue repair and regeneration, contributing to tissue and organismal aging.
What Are the Senescent Cells?
Senescent cells are damaged cells due to disease, injury, and other stress factors that the immune systems cannot remove through apoptosis. Senescent cells remain in the body, build up, and release a complex mixture of secreted factors called Senescence Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP) that can damage neighboring healthy cells.
The SASP is responsible for various beneficial and detrimental cell activities, such as wound healing, tissue repair, and tumor progression. During the aging process, senescent cells can release SASP, harming nearby healthy cells. One significant detrimental effect of the SASP is that it suppresses cancer’s immune system. In addition, the SASP can stimulate the formation of tumors by promoting tumor growth.
The quantity of senescent cells and their SASP in the human body grows with age. The immune system deteriorates due to aging and subsequently fails to clear the dead or damaged cells. On this account, scientists have proposed a widely-accepted hypothesis that removing senescent cells can reduce age-related tissue dysfunction and extend lifespan.
What Is the Role of Cellular Senescence in Aging?
Aging has long been a normal process that starts in early adulthood and progresses through time. Although the mechanisms of aging are complex and not fully understood, many scientists believe that cellular damage is to blame. In other words, cellular senescence can drive the aging process in response to cellular damage.
Further, cellular senescence has also been associated with various age-related diseases. This hypothesis has led to a variety of research that further investigates cellular senescence and the mechanisms by which the body can remove senescent cells to manage age-related diseases and even reverse aging. These mechanisms include employing the immune system and using senolytics.
How Does the Body Remove Senescent Cells?
The human immune system is a critical defense mechanism protecting the body from outside invaders. Thanks to this function of the immune system, the human body can eliminate harmful senescent cells by employing its immune cells to detect and remove them. These immune cells serve as a surveillance system in a healthy body, removing cells that the body sees as foreign, including senescent cells.
Further, scientists have discovered that using senolytics, a class of medication that recognizes and removes the senescent cells without affecting the healthy non-senescent cells, can effectively delay, prevent, or treat age-related diseases and potentially reverse aging. This type of treatment can work in conjunction with the immune system’s natural elimination of senescent cells.
In conclusion, cellular damage induced by cellular senescence might cause aging. Senescence can be addressed by enhancing the immune system or using senolytics to treat age-related diseases and reverse aging.
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