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Cells…Go Away?

July 20th, 2023

Cells are nothing short of amazing.

They make up every single tissue and organ in your body. No matter the biological process, cells are needed.

Which is great…so long as your cells are working as they ought to. And that includes “going away” when they die.

Unfortunately, some cells don’t go away when they die. They stop working (which means they stop dividing), but they just keep hanging around.

These cells, known as senescent cells (or “zombie cells”), stay in your body even though they are no longer doing anything useful. Like an unwanted houseguest who overstays their welcome, senescent cells have a way of messing things up for the other cells in your body.

To put it simply…senescent cells that have stopped dividing start doing harm instead of doing good.

Why Are Senescent Cells Bad for You?

If senescent cells simply stopped dividing, all would be well. However, these “zombie cells” aren’t inert.

Senescent cells accumulate as a result of processes like telomere shortening, DNA damage, and oxidative stress. And as they accumulate, they release molecules known as senescence-associated secretory phenotypes (SASP). These SASPs include:

  • Pro-inflammatory cytokines
  • Growth factors, and
  • Matrix metalloproteinases

Unfortunately, these substances promote chronic inflammation and they interfere with healthy cellular function. They also contribute to the development of age-related conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Through the activities of SASPs, senescent cells can even promote senescence and accelerated aging among neighboring healthy cells.

What Can You Do?

Medical science hasn’t come up with an effective method for removing senescent cells…yet.

(More about that in a bit.)

However, there are some things you can do to help your body eliminate these unwanted houseguests:

  • Exercise
    Research suggests that exercise may be one way to help your body rid itself of senescent cells.
  • Antioxidants
    Senescence occurs as a consequence of cellular damage, and this damage prevents cells from functioning properly. Antioxidants can repair cells that have been affected by oxidative damage. This may prevent cells from becoming senescent in the first place.
  • Intermittent fasting
    This approach to eating, where you substitute one or more meals from your day with periods of fasting, may combat the buildup of senescent cells. Intermittent fasting initiates a process known as ”autophagy”, which helps your body to rid itself of non-functioning cells.

What’s on the Horizon?

Current research suggests senescent cells hold the key to human longevity.

One promising avenue to promoting longevity are a class of drugs known as “senolytics”. These medications specifically target and eliminate senescent cells.

Another potential treatment involves “semomorphics”, a process that modifies SASPs to reduce their impact.

Researchers have also had promising results from using antioxidants to delay or eliminate senescence in stem cells.

All of these therapies have yielded encouraging results in animal studies. Human trials will be the next step.

In Summary

Senescent cells appear to be a major factor in determining both lifespan and healthspan in humans.

While current strategies for combatting senescent cells are limited, promising therapies are in the testing phase and could lead to significant advances in the treatment of age-related illnesses.

At Renew Youth, we remain on the forefront of age-related research. If you’d like to learn more about anti-aging strategies, call us at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to sign up for your free 30-minute consultation.

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