Research recently published by the scientific journal Cell Metabolism suggests that cellular senescence can drive anxiety and impair neurogenesis. Put simply; they’ve discovered that dead or dying cells disrupt the development of neurons which can eventually cause panic, confusion, or lead to violent outbursts. Of course, all of this new information is especially interesting when you consider the aggressive behavior often associated with the living dead.
Senscent cells are also known as “zombie cells” due to their dormant nature. These particular cells simply stop dividing but somehow remain in the body, impairing other vital functions. Research has shown that they contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. But the phenomenon itself is also one of the major concepts behind zombie decay theory.
The study focused on obesity in mice, which increases the level of “zombie” or senescent cells in the brain linked to anxiety. After removal of the zombie cells, researchers discovered that the mice performed much better at their assigned tasks; demonstrating a clear link between obesity, senescence, and anxiety-related behavior.
Our study provides proof-of-concept evidence that senescent cells are major contributors to obesity-induced anxiety and that senolytics are a potential new therapeutic avenue for treating neuropsychiatric disorders.
Importantly, we show that clearance of senescent cells alleviates the obesity-related impairment in adult neurogenesis and decreases obesity-induced anxiety-like behavior. Our work suggests that targeting senescent cells may represent a new therapeutic avenue for treating obesity-induced neuropsychiatric dysfunction.
Due to their undead nature, perhaps zombies have simply ceased the process of cell division; producing a dangerous amount of senscent cells resulting in symptoms such as memory loss, confusion, anxiety, and violence. While this study may not address the cause of the inevitable zombie apocalypse, it does offer a possible treatment for the symptoms of the disease itself.
We’ll continue to monitor the impact of this study in the future. But to learn even more about senescent cells and their effect on the human brain, we suggest that you read “The Role of Senescent Cells in Ageing” by author Jan van Deursen currently available online via Nature.
Of course, you can always check out the original study titled “Obesity-Induced Cellular Senescence Drives Anxiety and Impairs Neurogenesis” as published online by the scientific journal Cell Metabolism. Or if you’d simply like a concise overview of the research, just visit the Mayo Clinic for their official press release; because what you don’t know can eat you!