Immunosurveillance of senescent cells: the bright side of the senescence program

Biogerontology. 2013 Dec;14(6):617-28. doi: 10.1007/s10522-013-9473-0. Epub 2013 Oct 10.


Cellular senescence, a state of irreversible cell cycle arrest, is a robust mechanism used to mediate tumor suppression and control the tissue damage response following short-term insults. In addition, the senescence associated-secretory phenotype (SASP), one of the most profound characteristics of the senescence program, facilitates the immunosurveillance of senescent cells. The SASP includes many chemokines, cytokines and adhesion molecules that can recruit and activate distinct immune cells from both the innate and adaptive immune system such as NK cells, monocytes/macrophages and T cells. Furthermore, senescent cells can upregulate specific immune ligands on their cell surface that can mediate the recognition of these cells by specific immune cell subsets and lead to activation of the immune cells. Consequently, the activated immune cells engage explicit regulatory mechanisms to eliminate senescent cells. For example, recent work from our laboratory showed that perforin-granzyme exocytosis mediates NK-cell killing of senescent cells. Here, we summarize the current advances in our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying specific immune-mediated elimination of senescent cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism