The term cellular senescence was introduced more than five decades ago to describe the state of growth arrest observed in aging cells. Since this initial discovery, the phenotypes associated with cellular senescence have expanded beyond growth arrest to include alterations in cellular metabolism, secreted cytokines, epigenetic regulation and protein expression. Recently, senescence has been shown to play an important role in vivo not only in relation to aging, but also during embryonic development. Thus, cellular senescence serves different purposes and comprises a wide range of distinct phenotypes across multiple cell types. Whether all cell types, including post-mitotic neurons, are capable of entering into a senescent state remains unclear. In this review we examine recent data that suggest that cellular senescence plays a role in brain aging and, notably, may not be limited to glia but also neurons. We suggest that there is a high level of similarity between some of the pathological changes that occur in the brain in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and those phenotypes observed in cellular senescence, leading us to propose that neurons and glia can exhibit hallmarks of senescence previously documented in peripheral tissues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology