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Senolytics: eliminating “zombie cells” in the skin – A novel anti-aging mechanism to combat senescent cells


*Corresponding author 
Mibelle Biochemistry, Buchs, Switzerland


Cellular senescence is one of the hallmarks of aging. Senescent cells, also called “zombie cells”, a result of the aging process and oxidative stress, secrete pro-inflammatory factors that further contribute to aging. Therefore, eliminating senescent cells has emerged as a promising anti-aging therapy in the medical field in the past few years. This novel concept known as “senolytics” helps to clear tissues of senescent cells without affecting healthy cells in order to reduce inflammation and rejuvenate the tissue. For the first time, this concept has been adapted for cosmetics. An extract from organic alpine rose leaves demonstrated a clear senolytic activity on senescent fibroblasts. In a placebo-controlled clinical study, treatment with alpine rose extract significantly reduced skin redness and increased elasticity.


One of the main contributors to the aging process in our body is cellular senescence (1). The word senescence, its definition being “becoming or being old”, is derived from the Latin word senex (=old). While senescence can describe the aging of a whole organism, cellular senescence describes the aging process of cells within an organism. It was first shown in the 1960s by Hayflick & Moorhead that normal human fibroblasts grown in a petri dish had a finite number of cell divisions before they stopped dividing and became senescent (2). 

Since then, a myriad of research groups has investigated senescent cells, also called “zombie cells”, their contribution to the aging process and how their detrimental effects could be averted.


In the field of cosmetics, senescent cells in the skin have been a target for active ingredients for quite some time, mainly by mitigating the cellular damage that leads to senescence. However, a novel mechanism to eliminate senescent cells, called senolytics, is a promising new way to fight the aging process, in the medical as ...

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