, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 353–363 | Cite as

Cellular senescence: unravelling complexity

  • João F. Passos
  • Cedric Simillion
  • Jennifer Hallinan
  • Anil Wipat
  • Thomas von Zglinicki


Cellular senescence might be a tumour suppressing mechanism as well as a contributor to age-related loss of tissue function. It has been characterised classically as the result of the loss of DNA sequences called telomeres at the end of chromosomes. However, recent studies have revealed that senescence is in fact an intricate process, involving the sequential activation of multiple cellular processes, which have proven necessary for the establishment and maintenance of the phenotype. Here, we review some of these processes, namely, the role of mitochondrial function and reactive oxygen species, senescence-associated secreted proteins and chromatin remodelling. Finally, we illustrate the use of systems biology to address the mechanistic, functional and biochemical complexity of senescence.


Senescence Oxidative stress Mitochondria Secretory phenotype Systems biology Interactomes 



Work leading to this paper was supported by BBSRC (CISBAN) and Research into Ageing UK.


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Copyright information

© American Aging Association, Media, PA, USA 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • João F. Passos
    • 1
  • Cedric Simillion
    • 1
  • Jennifer Hallinan
    • 1
  • Anil Wipat
    • 1
  • Thomas von Zglinicki
    • 1
  1. 1.Ageing Biology Laboratories and Centre for Integrated Systems Biology of Ageing and Nutrition (CISBAN), Institute for Ageing and HealthNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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