Senolytics decrease senescent cells in humans: Preliminary report from a clinical trial of Dasatinib plus Quercetin in individuals with diabetic kidney disease

EBioMedicine. 2019 Sep:47:446-456. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.08.069. Epub 2019 Sep 18.


Background: Senescent cells, which can release factors that cause inflammation and dysfunction, the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), accumulate with ageing and at etiological sites in multiple chronic diseases. Senolytics, including the combination of Dasatinib and Quercetin (D + Q), selectively eliminate senescent cells by transiently disabling pro-survival networks that defend them against their own apoptotic environment. In the first clinical trial of senolytics, D + Q improved physical function in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal senescence-associated disease, but to date, no peer-reviewed study has directly demonstrated that senolytics decrease senescent cells in humans.

Methods: In an open label Phase 1 pilot study, we administered 3 days of oral D 100 mg and Q 1000 mg to subjects with diabetic kidney disease (N = 9; 68·7 ± 3·1 years old; 2 female; BMI:33·9 ± 2·3 kg/m2; eGFR:27·0 ± 2·1 mL/min/1·73m2). Adipose tissue, skin biopsies, and blood were collected before and 11 days after completing senolytic treatment. Senescent cell and macrophage/Langerhans cell markers and circulating SASP factors were assayed.

Findings: D + Q reduced adipose tissue senescent cell burden within 11 days, with decreases in p16INK4A-and p21CIP1-expressing cells, cells with senescence-associated β-galactosidase activity, and adipocyte progenitors with limited replicative potential. Adipose tissue macrophages, which are attracted, anchored, and activated by senescent cells, and crown-like structures were decreased. Skin epidermal p16INK4A+ and p21CIP1+ cells were reduced, as were circulating SASP factors, including IL-1α, IL-6, and MMPs-9 and -12.

Interpretation: "Hit-and-run" treatment with senolytics, which in the case of D + Q have elimination half-lives <11 h, significantly decreases senescent cell burden in humans. FUND: NIH and Foundations. Identifier: NCT02848131. Senescence, Frailty, and Mesenchymal Stem Cell Functionality in Chronic Kidney Disease: Effect of Senolytic Agents.

Keywords: Cellular senescence; Dasatinib; Diabetic kidney disease; Quercetin; Senescence-associated secretory phenotype; Senolytics.

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • Biopsy
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects*
  • Clinical Trials, Phase I as Topic
  • Dasatinib / pharmacology*
  • Dasatinib / therapeutic use
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quercetin / pharmacology*
  • Quercetin / therapeutic use


  • Biomarkers
  • Quercetin
  • Dasatinib

Associated data