Evidence and perspectives of cell senescence in neurodegenerative diseases

Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 May;137:111327. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.111327. Epub 2021 Feb 3.


Increased life expectancies have significantly increased the number of individuals suffering from geriatric neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). The financial cost for current and future patients with these diseases is overwhelming, resulting in substantial economic and societal costs. Unfortunately, most recent high-profile clinical trials for neurodegenerative diseases have failed to obtain efficacious results, indicating that novel approaches are desperately needed to treat these pathologies. Cell senescence, characterized by permanent cell cycle arrest, resistance to apoptosis, mitochondrial alterations, and secretion of senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) components, has been extensively studied in mitotic cells such as fibroblasts, which is considered a hallmark of aging. Furthermore, multiple cell types in the senescent state in the brain, including neurons, microglia, astrocytes, and neural stem cells, have recently been observed in the context of neurodegenerative diseases, suggesting that these senescent cells may play an essential role in the pathological processes of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, this review begins by outlining key aspects of cell senescence constitution followed by examining the evidence implicating senescent cells in neurodegenerative diseases. In the final section, we review how cell senescence may be targeted as novel therapeutics to treat pathologies associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cell senescence; Multiple sclerosis; Neurodegenerative disease; Parkinson’s disease; Senolytics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cellular Senescence* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / drug therapy
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Phenotype