Aging cells associated with dementia

Senescent cells accumulate in certain areas of the brain before cognitive loss, US neuroscientists have found that by preventing the accumulation of these cells, it is possible to decrease the aggregation of tau proteins associated with ‘Alzheimer’s. Explanation.

The aging of cells, called cell senescence, is already linked to the general process of aging and the development of diseases such as cancer.

The current work on mice by Dr. Darren Baker and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, United States, is the first to show that cell senescence is directly related to the neurodegeneration associated with dementia.

These researchers have also shown that removing these cells prevents brain damage associated with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. They believe that this new knowledge represents, in theory at least, a new way of tackling these neurodegenerative diseases.

Senescent cells are known to accumulate in the brain during natural aging.

Darren Baker

Did you know?

  • When observed for the first time, senescent cells were considered unnecessary and harmless. However, the last decade of research has established links between Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease.
  • Other research has also shown that the elimination of senescent cells in aging mice prolongs their healthy life span.
  • Last August, Dr. Lorna Harries and her colleagues at the Exeter University School of Medicine announced that they successfully counteracted cell degeneration by rejuvenating human cells through the creation of new molecular compounds.


Dr. Baker’s team used a model that mimics some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease in mice.

We have used a murine model that produces entanglement of tau proteins in the form of spider webs in neurons and which has genetic modifications allowing the elimination of senescent cells.

Dr. Baker

Thus, when the senescent cells were removed, the researchers found that sick rodents retained their ability to form memories, that the signs of inflammation disappeared and that the animals did not develop entanglements.

The authors of this work published in the journal  Nature also report that a pharmacological intervention that eliminates senescent cells also modulates the agglutination of tau proteins.

The team also observed under the microscope that two types of cells (microglia and astrocytes) became senescent in the aging brain.

These cells are associated with health and neuronal signaling. It is therefore logical that senescence in one or the other of these cells has a negative impact on the health of the neurons.

Tyler Bussian, Mayo Clinic

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia currently afflict 564,000 Canadians. In 15 years they will be 937,000.

On Earth, no less than 36 million humans are affected, says the World Health Organization. This number is expected to double by 2030 and triple by 2050.

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