Senescent cells

Senescent cells are stubborn cells that accumulate as we age and can cause health and cosmetic problems. There are different ways to combat them, such as medical therapies, diet and lifestyle changes.

What are senescent cells?

These are cells that have stopped dividing and do not function as they should, but remain alive in our body. Hence, they are also known as “zombie cells”. As we age, these cells accumulate and can cause some problems.

It should be kept in mind that senescent cells are under continuous study, so some of the things we know now could change in the near future. At the moment, they are believed to secrete a mixture of molecules that can cause chronic inflammation and damage to surrounding tissues. Aesthetically, this can translate into wrinkles, sagging skin and other signs of aging.

Excessive accumulation of senescent cells can have negative effects and is associated with various health problems:

  1. Cardiovascular diseases: they may be involved in the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis. As they accumulate in the blood vessels they contribute to chronic inflammation and deterioration of vascular function.
  2. Neurodegenerative diseases: senescent cells accumulate in the brain in the presence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It is believed that inflammatory molecules secreted by senescent cells may contribute to neuronal damage and progression of these diseases.
  3. Lung diseases: may contribute to the development of lung diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. Chronic inflammation and alterations in lung tissue repair may be consequences of the accumulation of senescent cells.
  4. Cancer. The case of cancer is very striking, since it is believed that senescent cells may have a protective role against this disease by stopping uncontrolled cell proliferation. However, it has also been observed that their accumulation may promote the development and progression of certain types of cancer.
  5. Joint diseases: they may be involved in joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis. Their accumulation in joint tissue can contribute to chronic inflammation and cartilage deterioration, leading to joint degeneration.

When does cellular senescence begin?

There is no exact moment when cellular senescence begins. Some cells may become senescent early in life, while others may remain healthy and functional for a longer period of time. However, in general, cellular senescence is thought to increase significantly as we approach middle age and beyond.

Factors affecting senescence

Several factors may contribute to the process of cellular senescence. One of the main ones is natural aging. As we age, our cells are at greater risk of becoming senescent. In addition, oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in our body, can also trigger cellular senescence.

Although senescent cells are a natural part of the aging process, their excessive accumulation can contribute to age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. So yes, those stubborn cells not only affect our appearance, but also our health.

Lifestyle also plays a crucial role in cellular senescence. Factors such as unprotected sun exposure, smoking, poor diet and lack of physical activity can accelerate the aging process and increase the accumulation of senescent cells.

How to avoid cellular senescence

While cosmetic products and treatments can help improve the appearance of the skin and reduce some signs of aging, it is important to note that they do not directly eliminate senescent cells.

Cosmetic products and treatments often focus on improving the surface appearance of the skin by reducing wrinkles, blemishes and other signs of aging. They can achieve this by stimulating collagen production, improving skin hydration or exfoliating the outer layers of the skin. These approaches can provide visible results and make the skin look younger and healthier.

That said, some studies suggest that certain aesthetic treatments may have indirect effects on senescent cells. For example, the use of laser and intense pulsed light therapies to stimulate the elimination of senescent skin cells has been investigated. However, these approaches are still in the research stages and are not considered conventional treatments.

It is also believed that radiofrequency may even eliminate senescent cells by promoting the acceleration of metabolism. This activates the cells and causes them to die instead of continuing in a vegetative state.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, protecting our skin from the sun, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are key measures to delay the appearance and accumulation of senescent cells.

In addition, science is constantly advancing in this area, and new ways to eliminate these cells and promote healthy aging are being researched. Therapies such as gene therapy, cell therapy and senolytics are in development and could be a hope for the future.

Commitment to quality

This text on senescent cells has been prepared by professional editors. In addition, we have relied on experts in medicine, engineering and aesthetics as a source of information, as well as specific studies to maintain the quality of what we publish.

At Sisneo Bioscience we are committed to publish truthful and contrasted information. And to update or correct it as soon as new knowledge becomes available.

Among others, we have used the following sources:

  • Moiseeva V, Cisneros A, Sica V, Deryagin O, Lai Y, Jung S, Andrés E, An J, Segalés J, Ortet L, Lukesova V, Volpe G, Benguria A, Dopazo A, Benitah SA, Urano Y, Del Sol A, Esteban MA, Ohkawa Y, Serrano AL, Perdiguero E, Muñoz-Cánoves P. «Senescence atlas reveals an aged-like inflamed niche that blunts muscle regeneration» Nature. 2023 Jan;613(7942):169-178. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-05535-x. Epub 2022 Dec 21. Erratum in: Nature. 2023 Feb;614(7949):E45.