Presently, the anti-aging and longevity community is massively investing in drugs to destroy age accumulating senescent cells. (Source) There may however be a more holistic approach to better modulate these senescent cells.
Senescent cells and senolytics
As the mammalian body ages, increasing amounts of eukariotic cells enter into a state of senescence. Senescent cells do not divide or support the tissue of which they are a part. Instead, they emit a range of potentially harmful chemical signals, which encourage other nearby cells to also enter the same senescent state.
Their presence causes many problems: they degrade tissue function, increase chronic inflammation, and can also raise the risk of cancer. Senescent cells normally destroy themselves via a programmed process called apoptosis, and they are also removed by the immune system.
However, the immune system weakens with age and an un-holistic lifestyle, as a consquence, an increasing numbers of these senescent cells escape the immune system, just like with cancer cells. .
Up to now, scientists have not found a way to get the body to stop or modulate the production of these cells. The best solution Modern Conventional Research has found is to remove these senescent cells with drugs, called senolytics. Much of the anti-aging industry has been focused on this approach. (Source)
However, in biology and holistic medicine, there is often more than one way to deal with a problem, and it could be the same for senescent cells.
If these senescent cells can escape immune system with immunity becomes comprised, the ultimate solution may be in reinforcing the immunse system’s immunosurveillance and troops. In this perspective, a new published study discusses the possibility of removing senescent cells by using the immune system itself rather than senolytic drugs.
This is a logical idea given that during normal, healthy operation, the immune system does indeed detect and remove senescent cells. It is only with accelerated aging that this system breaks down and fails, leading to the accumulation of senescent cells.
“In response to persistent DNA damage, induction into cell senescence promotes an immunogenic program which facilitates immune clearance of these damaged cells. Under physiological conditions, senescent cells can activate both innate and adaptive immune responses, functioning to maintain tissue homeostasis. In addition, emerging findings suggest that programmed induction of cell senescence may be important for regulating reproductive processes, partly facilitated by immune clearance. However, likely owing to aging of the immune system, a failure to eliminate senescent cells can contribute to their persistence in tissues, leading to the development and progression of age-related diseases. Such immune failure may in part be due to activation of the senescence program in immune cells, leading to their dysfunction. Furthermore, senescent cells under certain biological contexts have been shown to instead promote immune suppression, a response that may reflect differences between an acute versus chronic senescent phenotype. In this review, we provide an overview of the research to date concerning senescence immunosurveillance, including a focused discussion on the mechanisms by which macrophages may recognise senescent cells”. (1)
As a consequence, immunotherapy could be used to boost the aging and-or dysfunctional immune system so that it can get rid of these senescent cells, just like an efficient immune system can remove cancer cells. There are many holistic techniques that modulate and reinforce the immune system, including but not limited to gut and thymus regeneration. (2) Resveratrol has also been shown to impact DNA splicing and longevity. (Source)
There is rarely a single solution to a problem in biology. Given that immunotherapy is being now used to better address cancer cells, it may be possible to use a similar approach with regard to senescent cells.
Ch. J. (HMI Director)
(1). Senescence immunotherapy strategies as an alternative to senolytics for the removal of senescent cells will also be discussed. The authors of this review are Dominick Burton and Alexandra Stolzing. Alexandra is the chief researcher of the Major Mouse Testing Program, a senolytic project. See also Burton, D. Stolzing, A. (2018). Cellular senescence: Immunosurveillance and future immunotherapy. Science direct doi.org/10.1016/j.arr.2018.02.001
(2). Kim, M. J., Miller, C. M., Shadrach, J. L., Wagers, A. J., & Serwold, T. (2015). Young, proliferative thymic epithelial cells engraft and function in aging thymuses. The Journal of Immunology, 194(10), 4784-4795