Today, we want to draw your attention to an open-access review that focuses on the role of senescent cells in sarcopenia, the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength that leads to frailty.

Aging is the prime risk factor for the broad-based development of diseases. Frailty is a phenotypical hallmark of aging and is often used to assess whether the predicted benefits of a therapy outweigh the risks for older patients. Senescent cells form as a consequence of unresolved molecular damage and persistently secrete molecules that can impair tissue function. Recent evidence shows senescent cells can chronically interfere with stem cell function and drive aging of the musculoskeletal system. In addition, targeted apoptosis of senescent cells can restore tissue homeostasis in aged animals. Thus, targeting cellular senescence provides new therapeutic opportunities for the intervention of frailty-associated pathologies and could have pleiotropic health benefits.

The accumulation of senescent cells is one of the known sources of inflammaging, the chronic, age-related inflammation that is thought to contribute to the decline of the immune system, the loss of tissue regeneration, and the development of many age-related diseases, including most cancers, heart disease, and arthritis.

This review puts forward the case that the accumulation of senescent cells is a significant reason why we age. While their presence in tissue is relatively small even with advanced age, they are extremely harmful to neighboring cells, which they encourage to become senescent as well by secreting proinflammatory signals known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP).

The review looks at the various harmful things that the SASP can do, including reducing tissue repair, disturbing the balance between bone formation and resorption, and impairing the function of stem cells. Finally, it also discusses senolytics, which are therapies that remove senescent cells.


[1] Baar, M. P., Perdiguero, E., Muñoz-Cánoves, P., & de Keizer, P. L. (2018). Musculoskeletal senescence: a moving target ready to be eliminated. Current opinion in pharmacology, 40, 147-155.

About the author

Steve Hill

As a scientific writer and a devoted advocate of healthy longevity and the technologies to promote them, Steve has provided the community with hundreds of educational articles, interviews, and podcasts, helping the general public to better understand aging and the means to modify its dynamics. His materials can be found at H+ Magazine, Longevity reporter, Psychology Today and Singularity Weblog. He is a co-author of the book “Aging Prevention for All” – a guide for the general public exploring evidence-based means to extend healthy life (in press).
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