The Connection Between Senescence and Inflammaging

Written and Reviewed by: Elysium Health

immune cells

Key Takeaways:

  • Inflammaging is age-related inflammation. A healthy inflammatory state is associated with a healthy aging process. 
  • Senescent cells accumulate with age and can contribute to inflammaging. Senescent cells produce pro-inflammatory factors that impact the tissue environment. 
  • Senolytics target and aid in removing senescent cells to support a healthy inflammatory state.

Related Products: 

  • Senolytic Complex: Based on leading institutional research in the field of cellular senescence and proven to clear human senescent cells. The ingredients in the Senolytic Complex help target inflammaging to support a healthy aging process.

Inflammation gets a lot of bad press these days; it’s blamed for everything from acne to achy joints. But did you know that short-term inflammation (also known as acute inflammation) is actually a good thing? An inflammatory response occurs when your immune system senses unwelcome visitors, such as germs, or perceives threats due to infection or injury. The inflammatory process is how your body protects itself and jumpstarts the healing process.

For example, exercise causes a short-term inflammatory response during which, the body increases blood flow to the affected area to deliver oxygen and nutrients, and remove waste. This is part of the body’s natural healing process when we work out.

Yet sometimes, inflammation happens for other reasons—when your body doesn’t necessarily need to be in fight mode. For example, during the aging process—a phenomenon known as inflammaging or age-related inflammation. It’s somewhat of a vicious cycle, too: The aging process increases inflammation, and age-related inflammation can make you more prone to age-related conditions. 

The term “inflammaging” may sound like a buzzy social media word, but it’s actually a scientific term used to describe this type of age-related inflammation, and there is a ton of clinical research published on the topic.

Another cellular process that occurs with age is senescence. Senescence is a phenomenon that occurs when cells stop replicating and dividing, but they don’t die off as they should once they’re too old or too impaired to replicate again. The issue with these senescent cells is that they excrete pro-inflammatory factors that can impact neighboring and distant healthy cells and tissue. While your body does clear senescent cells, it’s less efficient at doing so over time, and senescent cells accumulate with age.

So, is there a relationship between inflammaging and senescence? Research suggests there is. Here’s what you need to know about aging, inflammation, and senescent cells.

What is inflammaging?

Aging is a natural process that none of us can avoid, but it’s fair to say that some of us experience it better than others and with fewer age-related complications. Why is that? Researchers point to inflammation. It’s one of the main factors that determines how we feel during the aging process. In fact, it’s considered one of the 12 pillars of aging, according to scientists [1]. Researchers say optimal aging is associated with a healthy inflammatory state, while elevated levels of inflammation are linked to accelerated aging and age-related conditions [2]. 

While no one can prevent aging, studies show that exercise, nutrition (including supplements), stress management, quality sleep, and other lifestyle factors can encourage a healthy inflammatory state as you age. 

What causes inflammaging? 

The causes of inflammaging are multifactorial. In addition to being an intrinsic process caused by aging, inflammaging can also be triggered by external environmental factors such as sun exposure, cigarette smoke, and pollution [3]. At the root of all of those factors is oxidative stress, which can trigger an inflammatory response from your cells. In addition to oxidative stress, inflammaging stems from genetic susceptibility, gut health, obesity, dysregulated immune cells, and cellular senescence, those alive but non-replicating cells [3].

The connection between inflammaging and cellular senescence

As mentioned, senescent cells are alive, only they’re no longer replicating and dividing. The Haylick limit, named for scientist Leonard Haylick, suggests that a cell can replicate and divide about 50 times before becoming senescent. However, cellular stress can cause a cell to enter senescence before the Haylick limit is reached.

Senescent cells essentially take up space—literally. Senescent cells are enlarged due to their continued growth without dividing. They continue to generate and eliminate waste. These cells secrete pro-inflammatory and proteolytic (those are enzymes that break down protein) factors, collectively known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), which can negatively influence nearby healthy cells and tissues. Think of a senescent cell like the one moldy strawberry in a pint of fresh strawberries. If you don’t remove it, the mold spreads to the rest of the healthy berries quickly.

Normally, senescent cells are cleared within days to weeks by our immune cells [4]. As we age, however, senescent cells accumulate—accumulating exponentially faster after 60 [5]—and impede immune function, creating a snowball effect that leads to even more senescent cells. As they build up and persist, senescent cells contribute to inflammaging. In fact, SASP is thought to be the leading cause of inflammation in age-related conditions [6].

Immunosenescence and inflammaging 

What’s immunosenescence? In short, it’s a term used to describe the aging of the immune system. Our immune system relies on specific immune cells to keep us healthy: B cells, which produce antibodies, T cells, which are cells that provide cell immunity, and NK or natural killer cells, which are white blood cells that destroy infected cells. During immunosenescence, this trio of critical immune cells becomes senescent, contributing to age-related decline and inflammation—or inflammaging. And while a healthy immune system will work to clear senescent cells, an aging immune system doesn’t work as well and the senescent cells can pile up, contributing to an unhealthy inflammatory state.

Senolytics can support a healthy inflammatory state and aging

Unfortunately, we can’t reverse the natural aging process, but we can harness innovations and interventions that help support a healthy inflammatory state as we age, including senolytics. This class of compounds, like those found in our Senolytic Complex, can aid in the removal of senescent cells and, in turn, support healthy cellular aging. The formulation in Elysium’s Senolytic Complex is based on leading institutional research in the field of cellular senescence and proven to clear senescent cells in two different human cell lines in laboratory studies. 

Senolytics work to support healthy aging and immune health on a cellular level—regardless of your age.


  1. López-Otín C, Blasco MA, Partridge L, Serrano M, Kroemer G. Hallmarks of aging: An expanding universe. Cell. 2023;186(2):243-278. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2022.11.001
  2. Teissier T, Boulanger E, Cox LS. Interconnections between Inflammageing and Immunosenescence during Ageing. Cells. 2022;11(3):359. Published 2022 Jan 21. doi:10.3390/cells11030359
  3. Pająk J, Nowicka D, Szepietowski JC. Inflammaging and Immunosenescence as Part of Skin Aging-A Narrative Review. Int J Mol Sci. 2023;24(9):7784. Published 2023 Apr 24. doi:10.3390/ijms24097784
  4. Chaib S, Tchkonia T, Kirkland JL. Cellular senescence and senolytics: the path to the clinic. Nat Med. 2022;28(8):1556-1568. doi:10.1038/s41591-022-01923-y
  5. Tuttle CSL, Waaijer MEC, Slee-Valentijn MS, Stijnen T, Westendorp R, Maier AB. Cellular senescence and chronological age in various human tissues: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Aging Cell. 2020;19(2):e13083. doi:10.1111/acel.13083
  6. Sanada F, Taniyama Y, Muratsu J, et al. Source of Chronic Inflammation in Aging. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2018;5:12. Published 2018 Feb 22. doi:10.3389/fcvm.2018.00012

Related Articles:

What is Cellular Senescence?

What is Cellular Senescence?

The Hayflick Limit suggests that a normal human cell can replicate and divide roughly fifty times before it cannot divide anymore. With cellular senescence, the cell loses the ability to multiply before it reaches that limit.
What are senolytics?

What are senolytics?

Senolytics target aging at the cellular level by helping the body clear senescent cells that accumulate with age.
Did You Know You Have Two Types of Immune Systems?

Did You Know You Have Two Types of Immune Systems?

The immune system consists of two main components—the innate and adaptive immune systems. Think of the innate immune system as the first line of defense—it is nonspecific and responds in the same way to all pathogens. In contrast to the fast-acting innate immune system, the adaptive immune system takes longer (days to weeks) and is highly targeted.