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Biomarker for Cell Senescence


E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

A test developed by Berkeley National Laboratory researchers uses blue stain to detect the presence of senescent cells. The assay top left shows young tissue with no presence of blue; top right is young sunburned tissue, also negative. Older tissue cells, pictured in the bottom four assays, contain blue areas revealing evidence of the existence of senescent cells.



This method provides a rapid, convenient and inexpensive basis to:


Eukaryotic cells, after proceeding through a finite number of cell divisions, enter a state characterized by irreversible growth arrest and altered function. Judith Campisi, Goberdhan Dimri and Monica Peacocke at Berkeley Lab believe that entry into this senescent state is a dominant, genetically controlled process that constitutes a tumor suppressive mechanism. Berkeley Lab and New England Medical Center researchers have now developed a convenient, single cell-based technique that readily identifies senescent cells in heterogeneous populations. This is the first biomarker of cell senescence that does not rely on measurements of DNA synthesis for detection. Berkeley Lab's method clearly distinguishes senescent cells from quiescent, terminally differentiated or physiologically compromised cells grown in vitro. This method also identifies the senescent state in cells of certain tissues grown in vivo, including skin cells. Berkeley Lab's technique will provide a valuable tool to develop rational interventions in the areas of aging and cancer. A convenient kit incorporating Berkeley Lab's procedure, useful to medical staff in offices and hospitals, would simply, immediately, and inexpensively aid in the diagnosis and prognosis of a variety of surgical procedures and pharmaceutical regimens.

STATUS: U.S. Patents #5,491,069 and #5,795,728; available for licensing


Dimri, G.P. et al., "A biomarker that identifies senescent human cells in culture and in aging skin in vivo," Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 1995, 92, 9363-9367.


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