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Cellular Senescence and Aging Demystified

Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
  • Cellular senescence is one of the 12 hallmarks of aging that involves the inhibition of continued cell cycles in certain cell types. 

    Cellular senescence can underlie age-related illness and higher levels of inflammation that are also markers for disease.

    Taking a supplement like fatty15 can help clear damaged cells and reduce the circulating amount of senescent cells in your body.

Getting older is a privilege, but if you find yourself plagued with age-related diseases, it may not feel that way. There’s currently a huge research focus on what causes aging and what steps we can take to slow the process down while helping our bodies function healthfully. 

Aging starts in our cells, the microscopic foundations of every tissue, organ, and system in the body. When the cells begin to experience loss of function, we will begin to experience loss of function, which can result in illness, disease, and dysfunction. The end result is a shorter lifespan. 

As we age, cellular function begins to decline. Protecting our cells is essential for helping protect our healthspan and guard our longevity. Together, we’ll look at how our cells age and one particular type of cellular aging, cellular senescence, that can sideline our health. 

What Happens to Cells As They Age?

Researchers have identified 12 hallmarks of aging that start in the cells and cause the body to age. These are specific to your cells and include specific ways your cells experience dysfunction. 

Genomic Instability

This refers to the accumulation of DNA damage built up throughout our lifetimes due to diseases, medical procedures and conditions, and exposure to toxins and external stressors. 

Telomere Attrition

Chromosomes are protected on the ends by telomeres. When DNA is replicated, the telomeres should be replicated too. The process doesn’t work properly with age, and a portion of the telomere isn’t replicated in the new cell. This is also referred to as telomere shortening. 

Epigenetic Alterations

These alterations happen due to changes in your behavior (like diet or exercise), changes in your environment, and alternations during DNA replication. 

Loss of Proteostasis

Your cells manufacture and use proteins, but with age, this process can malfunction, resulting in a condition known as loss of proteostasis. 

Disabled Macroautophagy

The lysosomes in your cells recycle old, damaged cell parts and organelles through a process known as autophagy. As we age, this process is inhibited, usually by genetic alterations like the ones mentioned above. When this happens, aging accelerates. 

Deregulated Nutrient Sensing

Your cells need to recognize, collect, and use the nutrients they need. Cells have specialized sensors that help them to do this. The four sensors are: IGF-1, mTOR, sirtuins, and AMPK. 

AMPK is particularly important because it plays a role in helping clear out damaged cells, which we’ll discuss in a moment. 

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

The mitochondria in our cells produce the energy (ATP) to help them carry out their functions. With age, mitochondrial function declines, which leads to a decline in bodily functions. 

In addition, when mitochondria produce less ATP, they produce more reactive oxygen species (ROS). This causes oxidative stress, a key driver in the aging process and age-related cellular breakdown. 

Stem Cell Exhaustion

Stem cells can morph into any type of cell your body needs and are especially important to the immune system. With age, they lose their ability to change, which means we don’t have the important, morphing stem cells we need when we need them. 

Altered Intercellular Communication 

Cells communicate with one another to keep our bodies in a state of homeostasis, or balance. Functions like glucose metabolism, cholesterol levels, mood, sleep, and even immunity rely on this communication. With age, this communication begins to break down, resulting in an imbalance in these important areas.

Chronic Inflammation

While some inflammation is good for the body, chronic inflammation is not. This refers to inflammation that can last for months to years. This can happen as a result of injury or as the result of a condition that causes more pro-inflammatory molecules to circulate in the body. 


You’ve probably heard a lot about gut health recently, and you might even take a probiotic to help ensure your gut health is balanced. Researchers now accept that an imbalance of the bacteria in the gut, known as dysbiosis, is one of the hallmarks of aging. 

Cellular Senescence

The final hallmark of aging is cellular senescence. To understand it, you must first understand that cells have a programmed lifespan. 

Most cells continually replicate through a process called cell proliferation. However, when a cell becomes unusable or damaged beyond repair, it should reach a state of apoptosis or cellular death. When the cell dies, it is then removed from the body. 

As you may have suspected, that process doesn’t go as smoothly as we age. With age, cells begin to lose their function, including their ability to replicate, known as cell cycle arrest. 

While these cells should die, they don’t. Like cellular zombies, they just exist in our bodies, a phenomenon known as cellular senescence. 

Why Does Cell Senescence Matter? 

It might seem like having a few zombie cells hanging around wouldn’t be that big of a deal. After all, cells are microscopic, and just because a cell has lost its function doesn’t mean it’s harming anyone. 

Some senescent cells are important to growth and development (especially embryonic development). These are referred to as short-term senescent cells or acute senescent cells. 

Senescent cells have lost their ability to function properly, and they no longer replicate, but they do still produce chemicals and compounds: toxic chemicals and compounds. Senescent cells secrete senescent secretomes. 

These secretions are a combination of molecules and compounds released by the cells. In the short term, they help. In the long term, they create a toxic inflammatory environment. A good example is wound healing. 

Senescent cells are thought to play a role in helping our bodies mobilize the troops (immune cells) to help heal a wound. Once the immune system heals the wound, the accumulation of senescent cells should clear out, but with age, that doesn’t happen, leaving your body with a higher level of chronic inflammatory cells. 

The Aging Factor

If we have senescent cells even as embryos, why is it dangerous to have them as adults? It’s not having them that’s the issue; it’s the amount of senescent cells we have. 

As we get older, our bodies become breeding grounds for senescent cells. This causes a decline in our abilities to heal and recover quickly and even interferes with our ability to learn and store new information. 

The Current Research

Researchers have linked cellular senescence with many age-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes, cancer, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and osteoarthritis. 

Unlike the helpful, short-term senescent cells, long-term senescent cells, known as senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), are the focus of research on aging, tumor suppression, and other methods of disease-reversal. 

SASPs produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune modulators, growth factors, and proteases. They also can “infect” other senescent cells and cause them to become pro-inflammatory cells that promote tumor progression and support the activation of cancer cells. 

Researchers have been investigating senescent cells for decades. Now that it is recognized as a biomarker for aging and a key factor in the aging process (along with many age-related illnesses), we’re looking for ways to help our bodies clear these useless cells. 

Drugs called senolytics may help. These drugs work to help clear senescent cells. Unfortunately, many of the drugs currently being tested are on mouse models and are not yet approved for human use. 

How Do I Know If I Have High Levels of Senescent Cells?

If you’re older and suffering from an age-related illness, you may have an accumulation of senescent cells in your body. Doctors can administer a test that measures your beta-galactosidase activity at pH 6.0. Higher levels of activity here indicate cellular senescence. 

What To Do

Helping our bodies clear out senescent cells is important for numerous reasons, not the least of which is tumor suppression and aging itself. Some of the interventions that will help increase longevity involve simply taking better care of yourself. 

Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting plenty of exercise. Another way to help? A simple fatty acid. 

C15:0 and Cellular Senescence

Pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0, was discovered as a beneficial fatty acid by a veterinary epidemiologist studying how to continually improve the health and welfare of older dolphins. This epidemiologist found that some older dolphins, but not all, developed aging-associated conditions. 

One of the key differences? The healthier, older dolphins had more C15:0 in their diet.

What Is C15:0?

C15:0 is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that is essential, which means our bodies need it to maintain our health and wellness but can’t readily make it on their own. C15:0 supports long-term health by integrating into your cells and helping rescue them from some of the most significant hallmarks of aging. 

Here’s how.

  • Repairing mitochondrial function. Sluggish mitochondria get a recharge with C15:0, which helps increase ATP output and reduce damaging reactive oxygen species by 45%. In one peer-reviewed study, C15:0 increased ATP levels in cells by 350%.
  • Activating PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. By activating these receptors, C15:0 has been shown to support more balanced metabolic, immune, heart and liver health, and even help deepen sleep. 
  • Activating AMPK. Remember that AMPK helps clear damaged senescent cells from the body. C15:0 helps activate AMPK, which helps clear these cells and significantly lowers levels of proinflammatory cytokines. 

By increasing your circulating levels of C15:0, you can give your cells the support they need to keep them healthy and reduce the markers of aging. You can also go on a single supplement mission to destroy your senescent zombie cells.

Because C15:0 is found only in trace amounts in whole dairy products (like full-fat milk and butter), and these foods contain much higher amounts of the ‘bad’ even-chain saturated fats, it wouldn’t make sense to increase your intake of these foods because it would mean packing in added calories and some unhealthy fats. A solution?


Elevate your cells. Elevate your self.

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Just one fatty15 per day is enough to help replenish your circulating levels of C15:0 and help guard your cells against the damaging effects of aging.

Fight the Zombie (Cell) Apocalypse

If you’ve been waiting for the zombie apocalypse, it’s already here and it’s happening inside your body. Fight back against inflammatory senescent cells with fatty15, the once-a-day, science-backed, pure and vegan friendly supplement that helps destroy your senescent zombie cells and improve your long-term health and wellness. 

You’re investing a lot in your health these days. Adding fatty15 to your health stack is one of the smartest things you can do to protect your longevity. 


Hallmarks of aging: An expanding universe | PubMed

Macroautophagy in CNS health and disease | PMC

Chronic Inflammation - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf

Does cellular senescence hold secrets for healthier aging? | NIA.gov

The Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotype: The Dark Side of Tumor Suppression | PMC

Efficacy of dietary odd-chain saturated fatty acid pentadecanoic acid parallels broad associated health benefits in humans: could it be essential? | Scientific Reports

A review of odd-chain fatty acid metabolism and the role of pentadecanoic Acid (c15:0) and heptadecanoic Acid (c17:0) in health and disease | PMC

Profile photo for Eric Venn-Watson

Eric Venn-Watson M.D.

Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.

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