Does cellular senescence hold the secrets of anti-aging? This popular field of research is unearthing multiple discoveries in the search for drugs that target senescent cells and slow the ravages of old age.
Have Researchers Found a Way to Reverse Aging?
Senescent Cells Explained
Senescence is the biological process that leads to aging. Senescent cells exist in a suspended state in the body – they can no longer divide to make new cells yet have ignored the order to expire.
This becomes a factor in aging and some diseases because the senescent cells remain in the body discharging toxic chemicals. In essence, aging starts at birth, when cell division and growth is fastest, and gradually slows down as time goes on. As you age, more cells enter into a state of senescence.
Senolytic drugs are among a class of small molecules currently under research to ascertain if they can selectively cause the death of or remove senescent cells and therefore improve health. Using senolytics to get rid of them has emerged as a promising therapeutic approach, but are there other options?
Natural Killer T Cells Help Removal of Senescent Cells
A new paper by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) reports having found out how immune cells get rid of senescent cells naturally. Their discovery could influence new approaches and strategies in the treatment of age-related chronic diseases with immunotherapy.
The research team investigated immune cells known as invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) as an alternative to senolytics. These cells function a bit like a natural surveillance system, targeting and eliminating senescent cells. But, iNKT cells become more sluggish with age and factors that contribute to chronic disease.
Piggybacking on the role of iNKT cells, the researchers found that they could get rid of senescent cells by using lipid antigens to switch on iNKT cells.
Mice with lung fibrosis had less damaged cells, and mice with diet-induced obesity had improved blood glucose levels.
After further investigation and trials, this could mean a potential immune therapy for senescence as well as a theory for advancing the next generation of processes to remove inflammatory senescent cells associated with chronic diseases.
Senolytic Drugs Alleviates Cognitive Decline
Other researchers have focussed on the link between senescence and cognitive decline. A team from Mayo Clinic has investigated whether cognitive decline can be reversed. And findings have indicated that mice with signs of dementia had improved cognitive ability after senescent cells were removed using senolytic drugs.
One cocktail of senolytic drugs found to significantly improved cognitive function in the mice was quercetin and dasatinib.
These findings could provide the groundwork for future studies on the removal of senescent cells as a possible therapy for age-related cognitive decline in patients.
Senolytic Supplements as a Natural Antioxidant
Senolytics help rid the body of senescent cells by using natural antioxidants found in healthy foods to seek out senescent cells and safely get rid of them, a process known as apoptosis.
Fisetin, quercetin, resveratrol, and curcumin have been recognized as some of the more essential senolytics among food supplements.
Quercetin, for example, is the most abundant flavonoid in the diet, and we can consume around 10–100 mg of it daily through various food sources. Quercetin is found in apples, berries, cherries, coffee, red wine, amongst other foods.
Curcumin’s many benefits suggest its potential as an overall anti-aging supplement. Two huge factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease are inflammation and oxidative damage, which curcumin may be able to treat.
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