Understanding Cellular Senescence, Podcast Interview with Judy Campisi

There is a good Buck Institute podcast interview with Judy Campisi that has just become available. There is also a full transcript of the interview on the same page as the podcast (scroll down) if you’d prefer to read vs. listen.

Judy: So, a senescent cell is a cell that has entered a state — a new state. And that state has three compartments. The first compartment is the cell doesn’t divide anymore. So it starts out where it can divide if it wants to. But now, it’s blocked. And it will never divide again so far as we know. The second is: the cells resist dying. They stick around both in vivo and also in culture when we study these things in human and mouse cultures. And the third thing, which we think is even most important, is they start secreting a lot of molecules that affect their neighbors. We call this a tripartite phenotype, three parts to what the cells are all about. And that defines the senescent cell. Cells with those characteristics increase with age. They’re present at sites of age-related pathology in both humans and mice. Uh, we think that they’re driving aging, and in the mouse, we’ve proven that. We have not proven it in humans yet.

Gordon: So, these cells are accumulating during normal aging.

Judy: Correct.

Gordon: Let’s talk about inflammation.

Judy: Yes.

Gordon: So it seems like this the senescent cells are producing inflammatory factors — which I think you coined the-the secretory phenotype of the — the SASP. Uh, so talk about the relationship with that process with the general picture of inflammation in aging and disease. I know it’s a huge topic. You could probably speak on that for a couple of hours.

Judy: Yes. But just to remind you, m — also, many, many years ago, an Italian scientist, Claudio Franceschi coined this term: inflammaging. And his point was, if you take a 16-year-old and do a liver biopsy and you take a 60-year-old and do a liver biopsy and then you give those biopsies blinded to a pathologist, the pathologist doesn’t really need to do very much. The pathologist will pretty much tell you, “This is young. This is old.” And what the pathologist will look for is low-level infiltration of certain immune cells. And that’s what Claudio called inflammaging.

Gordon: Mm-hmm.

Judy: And it is a general feature of aging and a general feature of aged tissues. It is not all driven by senescent cells. There are drivers that are senescent cells because they’re producing molecules that call these cells to the tissue. But there are other things that will cause, in — for example, a leaky gut will release certain fractions of bacteria. And that will attract immune cells. And that will cause inflammation. So there are multiple causes of inflammaging. Senescence is one of them. We think it’s a pretty important one. But it’s not the only one.


Full Paper: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11357-022-00652-x

At this point I found myself wondering how Rapamycin might help. This thread is helpful in that regard:

I have a number of disagreements here

a) I think senescence occurs frequently because stem cells that should differentiate fail to do so. That is why you find patches of senescence in areas which renew more frequently.
b) I think there is a a process of dedifferentiation which occurs which is short of senescence, but results in cells which a partially senescent in that they don’t fully function.
c) I think that IL-10 as part of SASP causes a) and b) to some extent.
d) I think that Rapamycin in improving mitochondrial health mitigates against a) and b). I do not think Rapamycin kills off senescent cells. I think it assists to get some cells to function in a better manner and not be senescent.f


Rapamycin inhibits the secretory phenotype of senescent cells by a Nrf2-independent mechanism



In essence that is what I am saying. As a result of autophagy stimulated by Rapamycin cells differentiate properly and don’t turn senescent. Actually I think there is a dynamic equilibrium the balance of which is shifted by autophagy (amongst other things). I think it is a mistake to think of cells as being configured to be in a static state. A better view point is a shifting dynamic equilibrium where if you wish to change the state of the cell you need to shift where the balance is.

1 Like

I am such a fan of hers. Here’s another great podcast where she affirms the point that rapamycin may operate by reducing secretions from senescent cells for a period of time, but does not eliminate them.


Another approach to treating scenescent cells:


But does it make the mice live longer?

No senolytics have made mice live longer, just healthier.

1 Like

How do you use ultrasound to rejuvenate senescent cells? Should I crank up the volume on my stereo and play the ultrasound’s greatest hits?

Seriously, sounds interesting but how would you do it?

MB believes that rapamycin also helps to prevent cells from becoming senescent.

Yes, that is the general consensus i think. That is called being “senomorphic”.

1 Like

In improving the mitochondria the levels of Acetyl-CoA in the nucleus are increased so longer genes do get transcribed and stem cells don’t get forced into senescence. There is evidence that telomeres are consequential rather than causal. (in vivo)

R.I.P. Judy Campisi. Dead at 70 due to breast cancer. It’s a shame when a pioneer passes so young. Cancer is a blight on the human race.

She did research into Rapamycin, so was she taking it?

1 Like

It’s very discouraging to see prominent researchers on aging prematurely die of cancer, the disease of aging.


I also had thought that breast cancer was helped by Rapamycin. However, she may not have been taking Rapa. I just don’t know.

There may be a connection between bacteria and breast cancer development. Rapamycin is known to promote bacterial growth.

“Recent research has identified a possible link between bacteria and breast cancer. According to a study by the Cleveland Clinic, researchers have long suspected that a “microbiome” within breast tissue plays a role in the development of cancer ¹. The study found distinct microbial differences between healthy and cancerous breast tissue, and showed that the healthy tissue contains more of the bacterial species Methylobacterium. They also found increased levels of gram-positive bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Actinomyces, in the urine of the cancer patients ¹. However, it is not yet known what role these bugs may play in breast cancer development and how targeting them might make the breast less hospitable to the disease. The study has provided “proof-of-principle” – enough evidence to support further research into the connection between bacteria and breast cancer development ¹.

It is important to note that this is still a developing area of research and more studies are needed to confirm the findings. It is also not yet clear what the implications of these findings are for treatment or prevention of breast cancer. If you have any concerns about breast cancer, it is best to consult with your doctor.”

¹: DrWeil.com

Source: Conversation with Bing, 1/25/2024
(1) Do Bacteria Cause Breast Cancer? - Andrew Weil, M.D. - DrWeil.com. Do Bacteria Cause Breast Cancer? - Andrew Weil, M.D..
(2) Bacteria in Breasts Linked to Breast Cancer - Heal Naturally. Bacteria in Breasts Linked to Breast Cancer - Heal Naturally.
(3) Breast cancer linked to bacterial imbalances | ScienceDaily. Breast cancer linked to bacterial imbalances | ScienceDaily.
(4) The Relationship Between Microbial Community and Breast Cancer. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcimb.2022.849022/full.

1 Like

If breast cancer is metabolic in cause

Then bacteria could do damage to mitochondria in cells to kick them into fermentation.

1 Like

There is some evidence of efficacy in breast cancer, but it seems to depend on the type of breast cancer: