Cellular senescence is a natural protective mechanism your body uses to stop the growth of cells that are at risk of transforming into cancer cells. An important scientific article published in Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology notes, “cellular senescence occurs in response to endogenous and exogenous stresses.” So think of senescence as your body’s “last-ditch” effort to protect us from damage that we accumulate from toxins (exogenous stress) and the free radicals our body just normally creates when we eat or breathe (endogenous stress).
Since the average person is exposed to more than 700,000 toxic chemicals a day our bodies are kicking up the process of cellular senescence like we have never experienced in human history. This is because these toxins damage our cells and damage can cause cells to mutate and mutations can cause our cells to become cancerous. From perfumes to cleaning products, from cosmetic products to plastic water bottles, much of your everyday life includes exposure to chemicals that aren’t good for your health – moreover, they damage our cells so they have to undergo senescence.
Protection from damage and stopping cancer – sounds pretty good, right?
But here’s the problem – although secensent cells accumulate in our bodies with age, as one would expect, research has found that this contributes to aging and age-related diseases. The diseases associated with senescence include the top killers in the US – heart disease, stroke and neurological diseases like Alzhemier’s. How can this be?
The Dark Side of Cellular Senescence
This natural, protective process has a dark side. This is due to what senescent cells secrete – Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP) factors. Although these little factors sound pretty harmless, there is emerging evidence demonstrating that some SASP factors are extremely inflammatory to the body. Remember, inflammation is believed to be at the root cause of all disease! It is also worth noting that some SASP factors secrete matrix-degrading molecules – the molecules that chew up important structures in the body such as your skin. Think wrinkles.
What do we do?
Now that you know one side of the senescence coin is good and the other bad, what do we do? Life is all about balance. The Ying and the Yang. And so a good approach to dealing with senescence is to firstly realize this process is here to help us, so we wouldn’t want to stop it altogether. We are inundated daily with loads of things that damage our body – it’s nice our body has a built-in mechanism to attend to that. But because of this constant upregulation, our bodies are weighed down with A LOT of senescence cells that they, in of themselves, do damage. The scales are tipped. Therefore eliminating senescent cells and attenuating the SASP have emerged as attractive therapeutic strategies. So much so that there are multiple biotech and pharmaceutical companies in hot pursuit of treatments that can wipe out senescence cells and/or decrease those nasty SASP factors. The aim is to re-balance the scales so that senescence can keep plugging away but that our bodies aren’t drowning in them.
The Use of Senolytics
Agents that rid the body of senescent cells are called “senolytics.” There have been some impressive studies that have shown that when senolytics were administered to old mice (the human equivalent of 75-90 years), their lifespans increased roughly 36% along with better physical function. In 2018 and 2019, mainstream medical journals described the potential of senolytics to “transform medical care.” And according to those little mice, this may be true.
Diabetes, obesity, stroke, vision loss, neurodegenerative disorders, osteoarthritis, and cancer can be connected to the presence of senescent cells.
Another review article published in August 2022 described many promising animal and human studies that are also in the works. The authors of that review are also advocating for large, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials (gold standard in research) using senolytics to combat age-related disorders because until we do these “in human” clinical trials, the jury is still out as to how the use of senolytics will affect our health.
Right now we know there are some nutrients found in foods that may reduce senescent cells. They include, fistein (from strawberries), quercetin (from apples) and theaflavin (from black tea). Again, these compounds need to be studied further in humans to make any direct conclusions about their senolytic effects but for now it reinforces the claim that a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables is always a good strategy to optimize you and your family’s health!
Does Wiping Out All Senescent Cells Make Sense?
We know that senescent cells can cause damage by way of their secretions – SASPs factor. But cutting-edge research is challenging the assertion that the quest to wipe out all senescent cells in the body is an effective clinical strategy. In an article entitled “Senescent cells help to heal damaged tissues”, the authors claim that scientists are reappraising the role of senescent cells that anti-aging Medicine has sought to eliminate. This is because senescent cells play a role in healing and possibly in helping us overcome illnesses, such as viral infections. Scientists found that some senescent cells are embedded in young, healthy tissues and promote normal repair from damage. They have also “now observed these cells in action in lung tissue and other organs operating as barriers in the body, such as the small intestine, colon, and skin. Lung tissue injuries recover more slowly when treated with senolytic medicines, killing these cells.”
Senomodulation is the Future of Senescence.
We at Weo are revolutionizing the way the world drinks water and are currently the world’s global leader in water research. Weo is in the process of researching and developing a precision water that acts not only as a senolytic but as a senomodulatory agent, allowing senescent cells to perform their positive functions, while lessening their damaging effects on the body. Pre-clinical data suggest that Weo water will be the first therapeutic to demonstrate and accomplish this never-before-seen effect.
1 Kirkland JL, Tchkonia T. Senolytic drugs: from discovery to translation. J Intern Med. 2020 Nov;288(5):518-36.
- Wissler Gerdes EO, Zhu Y, Tchkonia T, et al. Discovery, development, and future application of senolytics: theories and predictions. FEBS J. 2020 Jun;287(12):2418-27.
- Calcinotto A, Kohli J, Zagato E, et al. Cellular Senescence: Aging, Cancer, and Injury. Physiol Rev. 2019 Apr 1;99(2):1047-78.
- Childs BG, Li H, van Deursen JM. Senescent cells: a therapeutic target for cardiovascular disease. J Clin Invest. 2018 Apr 2;128(4):1217-28.
- Childs BG, Durik M, Baker DJ, et al. Cellular senescence in aging and age-related disease: from mechanisms to therapy. Nat Med. 2015 Dec;21(12):1424-35.
- Herranz N, Gil J. Mechanisms and functions of cellular senescence. J Clin Invest. 2018 Apr 2;128(4):1238-46.