Biomarkers to identify and isolate senescent cells.

Aging is the main risk factor for many degenerative diseases and declining health. Senescent cells are part of the underlying mechanism for time-dependent tissue dysfunction. These cells can negatively affect neighbouring cells through an altered secretory phenotype: the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). The SASP induces senescence in healthy cells, promotes tumour formation and progression, and contributes to other age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, immune-senescence and neurodegeneration. Removal of senescent cells was recently demonstrated to delay age-related degeneration and extend lifespan. To better understand cell aging and to reap the benefits of senescent cell removal, it is necessary to have a reliable biomarker to identify these cells. Following an introduction to cellular senescence, we discuss several classes of biomarkers in the context of their utility in identifying and/or removing senescent cells from tissues. Although senescence can be induced by a variety of stimuli, senescent cells share some characteristics that enable their identification both in vitro and in vivo. Nevertheless, it may prove difficult to identify a single biomarker capable of distinguishing senescence in all cell types. Therefore, this will not be a comprehensive review of all senescence biomarkers but rather an outlook on technologies and markers that are most suitable to identify and isolate senescent cells.