Senolytics and senomorphics: Natural and synthetic therapeutics in the treatment of aging and chronic diseases

Free Radic Biol Med. 2021 Aug 1;171:169-190. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2021.05.003. Epub 2021 May 12.


Cellular senescence is a heterogeneous process guided by genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors, characterizing many types of somatic cells. It has been suggested as an aging hallmark that is believed to contribute to aging and chronic diseases. Senescent cells (SC) exhibit a specific senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), mainly characterized by the production of proinflammatory and matrix-degrading molecules. When SC accumulate, a chronic, systemic, low-grade inflammation, known as inflammaging, is induced. In turn, this chronic immune system activation results in reduced SC clearance thus establishing a vicious circle that fuels inflammaging. SC accumulation represents a causal factor for various age-related pathologies. Targeting of several aging hallmarks has been suggested as a strategy to ameliorate healthspan and possibly lifespan. Consequently, SC and SASP are viewed as potential therapeutic targets either through the selective killing of SC or the selective SASP blockage, through natural or synthetic compounds. These compounds are members of a family of agents called senotherapeutics divided into senolytics and senomorphics. Few of them are already in clinical trials, possibly representing a future treatment of age-related pathologies including diseases such as atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular diseases, hepatic steatosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and age-related macular degeneration. In this review, we present the already identified senolytics and senomorphics focusing on their redox-sensitive properties. We describe the studies that revealed their effects on cellular senescence and enabled their nomination as novel anti-aging agents. We refer to the senolytics that are already in clinical trials and we present various adverse effects exhibited by senotherapeutics so far. Finally, we discuss aspects of the senotherapeutics that need improvement and we suggest the design of future senotherapeutics to target specific redox-regulated signaling pathways implicated either in the regulation of SASP or in the elimination of SC.

Keywords: Age-related diseases; Aging; Cellular senescence; Natural compounds; Senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP); Senolytics; Senomorphics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Longevity
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*