May 15, 2019

LONGEVITY: Zombie cells’ buildup in your body may play role in aging.

Zombie cells are actually called senescent cells. They start out normal but then encounter a stress, like damage to their DNA or viral infection. At that point, a cell can choose to die or become a zombie, basically entering a state of suspended animation.

The problem is that zombie cells release chemicals that can harm nearby normal cells. That’s where the trouble starts.

What kind of trouble? In mouse studies, drugs that eliminate zombie cells — so-called senolytics — have been shown to improve an impressive list of conditions, such as cataracts, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, enlargement of the heart, kidney problems, clogged arteries and age-related loss of muscle.

Mouse studies have also shown a more direct tie between zombie cells and aging. When drugs targeting those cells were given to aged mice, the animals showed better walking speed, grip strength and endurance on a treadmill. Even when the treatment was applied to very old mice, the equivalent of people ages 75 to 90, it extended lifespan by an average of 36 percent.

Researchers have also shown that transplanting zombie cells into young mice basically made them act older: their maximum walking speed slowed down, and their muscle strength and endurance decreased. Tests showed the implanted cells converted other cells to zombie status.

I take quercetin to help knock those out, but I expect more potent treatments to arrive.

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