Over time, damaged and dysfunctional components of the body’s cells accumulate leading to a potential buildup of cellular debris which can permanently alter the genes, structure, and function of cells. Clearing away these parts is essential for maintaining optimal cellular function and happens naturally in the body during a complex process called autophagy. Scientists are currently investigating the potential benefits and risks involved with inducing autophagy, which has been linked to several positive health effects including the improvement of cellular health and promotion of an elongated human lifespan. Research in this field remains in its early stages yet some studies have revealed promising results that could shape future approaches to functional medicine.
With a focus on extending and improving the human lifespan, the medical community continues to explore potential avenues in longevity. One such development has directed increased attention to the practice of senolytics – or, the process of flushing senescent cells from the body to discard harmful proteins. Senescent cells are malfunctioning, aged cells which can trigger inflammation and dysfunction, developed in response to disease, injury, or cancerous formations.
These cells can remain in the body, contributing to the development of many diseases and features of aging, such as heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and lung disease. Removing senescent cells from mice was found to alleviate insulin resistance, cell dysfunction, and ameliorate other complications in cases of kidney failure and disease.
Characterized by the progressive loss of physiological capacity resulting in impaired functioning and susceptibility to diseases, the biological aging process at a cellular level has two key hallmark elements: telomere length (TL) shortening and cellular senescence. A variety of therapeutic methods aimed at reversing or slowing down this process continues to be investigated while a novel treatment shows promise – a specialized form of oxygen therapy that may be able to reverse the aforementioned biological markers of aging.
In a new small study published in the Journal of Aging, researchers present potential breakthrough findings. Per their results, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) may be an effective method for delaying or even reversing cellular degeneration as it was shown to lengthen telomeres and decrease levels of senescent cells, potentially helping prevent age-related illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and dementia.