Transcriptomic Analysis of Cellular Senescence: One Step Closer to Senescence Atlas

Mol Cells. 2021 Mar 31;44(3):136-145. doi: 10.14348/molcells.2021.2239.


Senescent cells that gradually accumulate during aging are one of the leading causes of aging. While senolytics can improve aging in humans as well as mice by specifically eliminating senescent cells, the effect of the senolytics varies in different cell types, suggesting variations in senescence. Various factors can induce cellular senescence, and the rate of accumulation of senescent cells differ depending on the organ. In addition, since the heterogeneity is due to the spatiotemporal context of senescent cells, in vivo studies are needed to increase the understanding of senescent cells. Since current methods are often unable to distinguish senescent cells from other cells, efforts are being made to find markers commonly expressed in senescent cells using bulk RNA-sequencing. Moreover, single-cell RNA (scRNA) sequencing, which analyzes the transcripts of each cell, has been utilized to understand the in vivo characteristics of the rare senescent cells. Recently, transcriptomic cell atlases for each organ using this technology have been published in various species. Novel senescent cells that do not express previously established marker genes have been discovered in some organs. However, there is still insufficient information on senescent cells due to the limited throughput of the scRNA sequencing technology. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the throughput of the scRNA sequencing technology or develop a way to enrich the rare senescent cells. The in vivo senescent cell atlas that is established using rapidly developing single-cell technologies will contribute to the precise rejuvenation by specifically removing senescent cells in each tissue and individual.

Keywords: aging; cellular senescence; heterogeneity; single-cell RNA sequencing; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Review