Much like the ‘undead’ in apocalyptic movies, zombie cells are the ones that cannot die but are equally unable to perform the functions of a normal cell. Formally known as senescent cells, they have been implicated in a number of age-related diseases.
In a mouse model of brain disease, scientists at Mayo Clinic, U.S. report that senescent cells accumulate in certain brain cells prior to cognitive loss. Preventing the accumulation helps to diminish tau protein aggregation, neuronal death and memory loss.
Recently, scientists probed the mysteries of zombie cells using a model that imitates aspects of Alzheimer’s disease. When senescent cells were removed, the scientists found that the diseased animals retained the ability to form memories, eliminated signs of inflammation, did not develop what are called neurofibrillary tangles, and had maintained normal brain mass.