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Ageing Res Rev. 2016 Aug;29:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.05.003. Epub 2016 May 20.

Biomarkers to identify and isolate senescent cells.

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Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, England, UK.
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
Institute IZBI, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany; Loughborough University, Loughborough, England, UK. Electronic address:


Aging is the main risk factor for many degenerative diseases and declining health. Senescent cells are part of the underlying mechanism for time-dependent tissue dysfunction. These cells can negatively affect neighbouring cells through an altered secretory phenotype: the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). The SASP induces senescence in healthy cells, promotes tumour formation and progression, and contributes to other age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, immune-senescence and neurodegeneration. Removal of senescent cells was recently demonstrated to delay age-related degeneration and extend lifespan. To better understand cell aging and to reap the benefits of senescent cell removal, it is necessary to have a reliable biomarker to identify these cells. Following an introduction to cellular senescence, we discuss several classes of biomarkers in the context of their utility in identifying and/or removing senescent cells from tissues. Although senescence can be induced by a variety of stimuli, senescent cells share some characteristics that enable their identification both in vitro and in vivo. Nevertheless, it may prove difficult to identify a single biomarker capable of distinguishing senescence in all cell types. Therefore, this will not be a comprehensive review of all senescence biomarkers but rather an outlook on technologies and markers that are most suitable to identify and isolate senescent cells.


Aging; Biomarkers; Cell biology; Senescence

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