The embryo development in utero is a continuous source of medical discovery and recent studies proved that senescence is part of the embryo’s evolution. Apparently during the stages of development the embryo is shedding tissues it no longer needs and senescence is the process that turns off the cells from those tissues.
What we know about senescence?
Senescence is a body process extremely familiar to cancer patients. This process is responsible for switching off the cancer cells. Because of it the cells no longer divide ending their life cycle. Along its role in cancer treatment , senescence is also known for its important role in the aging of the human body.
The embryo growth and senescence
The Centre for Genomic Regulation from Barcelona, together with Spanish National Cancer Research Centre published in the “Cell” magazine important conclusions about how this switch-off mechanism plays an important role in the development of the embryo.
Studies have found that during the embryonic stage certain tissues that aid in the formation of certain organs serve in the beginning a completely different role. After they have served their purpose the cells in the tissue are switched off and the macrophages intervene and remove the dead cells from the body.
The scientists analyzed two important tissues : the endolymphatic sac ( an important part of the inner ear) and the mesonephros ( the tissue playing the kidney role which later disappears almost entirely, the remaining cells becoming part of the testicles or vagina).
Both tissues presented the same gene that is known to cause senescence . The p21 gene is the gene responsible for triggering the senescence process and the scientists were surprised to find it in two different tissues with completely different purposes.
This study demonstrated that the appearance of senescence in the case of cancer and aging is a result of the human evolution.
It is important to understand that senescence simply assists in the process of aging the same way it helps the evolution of the embryo. As we grow old the body no longer needs certain cells. The senescence switches them off and they are eliminated with the help of macrophages.
We should keep in mind that senescence is not to blame for the aging process. If in case of the embryo the process assists in recycling the tissues supporting growth, during aging it simply helps the body get rid of damaged cells. With age the number of damages cell increases and this is why there is more and more senescence.