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REVIEW: Elimination of Senescent Cells: Prospects According to the Subtelomere-Telomere Theory

G. Libertini1,a*, N. Ferrara1, G. Rengo1, and G. Corbi1

1Federico II University, Department of Translational Medical Sciences, 80138 Naples, Italy

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received May 1, 2018; Revision received August 23, 2018
Cell senescence is an artificially reversible condition activated by various factors and characterized by replicative senescence and typical general alteration of cell functions, including extra-cellular secretion. The number of senescent cells increases with age and contributes strongly to the manifestations of aging. For these reasons, research is under way to obtain “senolytic” compounds, defined as drugs that eliminate senescent cells and therefore reduce aging-associated decay, as already shown in some experiments on animal models. This objective is analyzed in the context of the programmed aging paradigm, as described by the mechanisms of the subtelomere-telomere theory. In this regard, positive effects of the elimination of senescent cells and limits of this method are discussed. For comparison, positive effects and limits of telomerase activation are also analyzed, as well of the combined action of the two methods and the possible association of opportune gene modifications. Ethical issues associated with the use of these methods are outlined.
KEY WORDS: aging, cell senescence, gradual cell senescence, senolytic drugs, telomerase, subtelomere, programmed aging theory, phenoptosis

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297918120064