A senescent cell bystander effect: Senescence-induced senescence

Glyn Nelson, James Wordsworth, Chunfang Wang, Diana Jurk, Conor Lawless, Carmen Martin-Ruiz, Thomas von Zglinicki

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

209 Scopus citations


Senescent cells produce and secrete various bioactive molecules including interleukins, growth factors, matrix-degrading enzymes and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Thus, it has been proposed that senescent cells can damage their local environment, and a stimulatory effect on tumour cell growth and invasiveness has been documented. However, it was unknown what effect, if any, senescent cells have on their normal, proliferation-competent counterparts. We show here that senescent cells induce a DNA damage response, characteristic for senescence, in neighbouring cells via gap junction-mediated cell-cell contact and processes involving ROS. Continuous exposure to senescent cells induced cell senescence in intact bystander fibroblasts. Hepatocytes bearing senescence markers clustered together in mice livers. Thus, senescent cells can induce a bystander effect, spreading senescence towards their neighbours in vitro and, possibly, in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-349
Number of pages5
JournalAging Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • 53BP1
  • Aging
  • Cell signalling
  • DNA damage
  • Fluorescence
  • GFP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Aging

Cite this

Nelson, G., Wordsworth, J., Wang, C., Jurk, D., Lawless, C., Martin-Ruiz, C., & von Zglinicki, T. (2012). A senescent cell bystander effect: Senescence-induced senescence. Aging Cell, 11(2), 345-349. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1474-9726.2012.00795.x