Cellular senescence is a part of the aging process where cells cease to be functional and instead secrete pro-inflammatory mediators to harm surrounding healthy cells.
There are a variety of natural compounds that act as senolytics, selectively killing senescent cells and reducing the body’s senescent cell burden. In longevity, senolytics may promote metabolic health by rejuvenating the body at the cellular level.
Cellular Senescence and Aging
Despite no longer dividing, senescent cells remain metabolically active, releasing an array of inflammatory molecules referred to as the “senescence-associated secretory phenotype,” or SASP.
Cellular senescence is not always a negative process; in fact, it is adaptive in certain situations. Cellular senescence aids wound repair, limits the replication of old, damaged cells, and inhibits the proliferation of aberrant cells, creating an internal environment less hospitable to malignant cell growth. (4, 5) However, cellular senescence can also compromise the body’s inflammatory balance, accelerating biological aging. (6) The double-edged sword effects of cellular senescence may be related to two distinct types of senescence activity (7):
Acute senescence triggered by discrete stressors, such as an injury, that ultimately supports healthy tissues
Chronic senescence is triggered by persistent damage and associated with damaging processes such as biological aging
In chronic senescence, the SASP leads to cellular damage that ultimately causes cells to become “sick,” contributing to the biological aging process. To halt the cascade of inflammation and cellular harm triggered by chronic senescence, we must target dysfunctional senescent cells.
Senolytics, or compounds that selectively destroy senescent cells, can help us accomplish this goal.
Senolytic compounds are a critical component of longevity as they manage senescent cell populations, promoting a healthier cellular microenvironment that is conducive to healthy aging. One well-researched senolytic is the plant compound, quercetin. (8)