What Is Cellular Senescence?

 Cellular Senescence
Image Credit: Lifespan.io

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Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

The cells in our bodies have life cycles that undergo varying stages. Cells are born, they mature, then are re-absorbed into the body once they’ve fulfilled their lifespans. During proliferation, there can be an inhibition of the cell growth cycle that results in a resistance to growth-promoting stimuli. When the root cause of disruption of the cellular growth cycle is influenced by DNA damage, the process is known as cellular senescence. 

Initially described by Leonard Hayflick, the observation of human foetal fibroblasts was the phenomenon that led to the discovery of cellular senescence. It was noted that there was a point at which the fibroblast cells would stop dividing, yet remain viable and metabolically active in their cell cultures. While cells are not expected to keep dividing indefinitely, there is a distinct behaviour that differentiates them from other cells. They are their own unique classification. 

The characteristics of senescent cells include: 

  1. Morphological and Metabolic Changes 
  2. Chromatin Reorganisation
  3. Altered Gene Expression
  4. Adoption of a pro-inflammatory phenotype known as the  and adoption of a pro-inflammatory phenotype known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). 

The role of senescence in cells is still being understood by the medical community. Cell regeneration is one of the key components of longevity. Other biologically significant functions of senescence have been identified as being important to:

  1. Protecting cell growth mechanisms from malignant transformations of damaged cells. Organisms would inherently want damaged cell generation to be minimised in the body, and the onset of senescence is an intelligent mechanism that prevents any further progression of the abnormal cells in an otherwise healthy system. 
  2. Contribution to the onset of age-associated pathologies such as cancer, tissue degeneration and inflammatory diseases. In this latter condition, the correction of cell senescence will enable the right cells to replenish in an organism and restore normal, healthy function. 

Cellular senescence is now being studied for a better understanding of both the factors that contribute to improvement of health, and the expansion of human lifespans. Ageing is a long term degeneration of the body, while senescence is a process that occurs throughout the entire human lifespan. Not all cells are required at all phases of our existence. 

As the human body matures, the role of cell senescence becomes more prevalent in wound healing and general well-being. 

Why does senescence occur?

The body is designed for optimal living. With a mechanism in place for the prevention of the replication of cells with damaged DNA, cell senescence plays a critical role in prevention of a variety of illnesses in the body. Healthy cells are permitted to propagate, and organisms can thrive in optimal health. The human body is intelligently designed for survival via the mechanism of cellular senescence.

Reference Article:

Overview of Cellular Senescence: https://www.cellsignal.com/science-resources/overview-of-cellular-senescence

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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