Senescent cells and the incidence of age-related diseases

Itay Katzir, Miri Adler, Omer Karin, Netta Mendelsohn-Cohen, Avi Mayo, Uri Alon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and osteoarthritis have universal features: Their incidence rises exponentially with age with a slope of 6–8% per year and decreases at very old ages. There is no conceptual model which explains these features in so many diverse diseases in terms of a single shared biological factor. Here, we develop such a model, and test it using a nationwide medical record dataset on the incidence of nearly 1000 diseases over 50 million life-years, which we provide as a resource. The model explains incidence using the accumulation of senescent cells, damaged cells that cause inflammation and reduce regeneration, whose level rise stochastically with age. The exponential rise and late drop in incidence are captured by two parameters for each disease: the susceptible fraction of the population and the threshold concentration of senescent cells that causes disease onset. We propose a physiological mechanism for the threshold concentration for several disease classes, including an etiology for diseases of unknown origin such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and osteoarthritis. The model can be used to design optimal treatments that remove senescent cells, suggeting that treatment starting at old age can sharply reduce the incidence of all age-related diseases, and thus increase the healthspan.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13314
Number of pages15
JournalAging Cell
Issue number3
StatePublished Online - 8 Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ageing
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Senescent cells and the incidence of age-related diseases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this