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The development of senescence in tissues of different organs and in the immune system are usually investigated independently of each other although during ageing, senescence in both cellular systems develop concurrently. Senescent T cells are highly inflammatory and secrete cytotoxic mediators and express natural killer cells receptors (NKR) that bypass their antigen specificity. Instead they recognize stress ligands that are induced by inflammation or infection of different cell types in tissues. In this article we discuss data on T cell senescence, how it is regulated and evidence for novel functional attributes of senescent T cells. We discuss an interactive loop between senescent T cells and senescent non-lymphoid cells and conclude that in situations of intense inflammation, senescent cells may damage healthy tissue. While the example for immunopathology induced by senescent cells that we highlight is cutaneous leishmaniasis, this situation of organ damage may apply to other infections, including COVID-19 and also rheumatoid arthritis, where ageing, inflammation and senescent cells are all part of the same equation.

Original publication




Journal article


Aging cell

Publication Date





T cell, aging, senescence, Aging, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes, COVID-19, Cellular Senescence, Humans, Killer Cells, Natural, Leishmania braziliensis, Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous, Receptors, Natural Killer Cell, SARS-CoV-2