Combining Stem Cell Rejuvenation and Senescence Targeting to Synergistically Extend Lifespan

Kaur P, Otgonbaatar A, Ramamoorthy A, Zhen Chua EH, Harmston N, Gruber J, Tolwinski NS.
Preprint from
22 April 2022


Why biological age is a major risk factor for many of the most important human diseases remains mysterious. We know that as organisms age, stem cell pools are exhausted while senescent cells progressively accumulate. Independently, induction of pluripotency via expression of Yamanaka factors ( Oct4, Klf4, Sox2, c-Myc; OKSM) and clearance of senescent cells have each been shown to ameliorate cellular and physiological aspects of aging, suggesting that both processes are drivers of organismal aging. However, stem cell exhaustion and cellular senescence likely interact in the etiology and progression of age-dependent diseases because both undermine tissue and organ homeostasis in different if not complementary ways. Here, we combine transient cellular reprogramming (stem cell rejuvenation) with targeted removal of senescent cells to test the hypothesis that simultaneously targeting both cell-fate based aging mechanisms will maximize life and health span benefits. We show that these interventions protect the intestinal stem cell pool, lower inflammation, activate pro-stem cell signaling pathways, and synergistically improve health and lifespan. Our findings suggest that a combination therapy, simultaneously replacing lost stem cells and removing senescent cells, shows synergistic potential for anti-aging treatments. Our finding that transient expression of both is the most effective suggests that drug-based treatments in non-genetically tractable organisms will likely be the most translatable.