Researchers have found that senescent cells accumulate in our body as we age. Deciphering the purpose, causes, and consequences of cellular senescence will provide us with a better understanding of the role they may play in a wide variety of diseases and how we can use therapies to remove them to improve human health.
How Does Cellular Senescence Affect Health?
In recent years, a growing number of studies have shown that the phenomenon of cellular senescence exacerbates many diseases and may have a negative impact on human lifespan. If these cells can be selectively removed from the body, would that increase human healthspan and help lessen disease burden?
Lessons in this Module:
Scientists have become very interested in learning how cells in our body become senescent and understanding the resulting consequences of these cells to our health. To facilitate those studies, scientists can induce senescence in model cells and assess senescence using a variety of methods, such as qPCR, immunofluorescence, and the SA-βgal assay.
qPCR is a special variation on the traditional version of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. By comparing transcript levels to housekeeping genes, gene expression can be measured to learn about gene function and potentially intervene to restore function that is lost over time.
Immunofluorescent staining (IF) is a technique that uses antibodies and fluorophores to mark specific proteins. Scientists can use IF to identify different cell types, track the location of proteins throughout the cell, and determine protein co-localization. This insight aid in our understanding of how cells work and how they break down when we get sick.