Healthy-aging ingredients: Can fisetin fight zombie cells?


Why fisetin is an important nutraceutical that can improve the lifespan and healthspan of men and women.

Photo © Sham-ann

Photo © Sham-ann

The root of aging begins with cells that already have a predetermined lifespan in the human body. There are many other factors that play a major role in aging, like genetics, evolution, environment, or diseases. Every day there are new technologies being researched to find out how to slow down the aging processes. Scientists are working diligently to boost the average lifespan and healthspan of men and women. People are spending billions of dollars on technology and therapies to combat aging. Instead of being worried about becoming elderly, there is a way to fight it and become “wellderly.”

Age Is a Primary Risk Factor

Age is a predominant risk factor for most chronic diseases. The cells throughout the human body are experiencing harm well before one is diagnosed with a chronic disease. The immune system is usually able to clear these damaged cells through a process called apoptosis. However, as we age, the body no longer functions the same. During aging, dysfunctional cells not only accumulate but become more difficult to remove, which can be caused by a weak immune system or a sped-up biological process.

Matthew Yousefzadeh, PhD

Matthew Yousefzadeh, PhD

One of the hallmarks of aging is cellular senescence, where cells lose the ability to grow and divide. Senescent cells are different from normal cells because they stop multiplying and do not die off. These senescent cells remain in the body and continue to be metabolically active, releasing inflammatory molecules that can cause normal cells to become senescent. The spread of inflammation that causes systemic harm to tissues is called “inflammaging.” The burden of these senescent cells increases in the human body with age. Furthermore, as we age, the immune system becomes less effective, which limits our ability to remove senescent cells. One of my studies1 published in 2021 showed that senescent cells exacerbate inflammation produced by viral infections, like those that cause COVID-19. This may explain why older populations, who have more senescent cells, struggle to recover more from this virus than younger populations.

A Natural Solution to Senolytics

Scientists have nicknamed senescent cells “zombie cells.” Like zombies, these senescent cells are damaged and refuse to die, but still “hang around.”

Drugs called senolytics are being identified as candidates for addressing this issue. Senolytics are drugs that selectively target senescent cells for destruction. In my study, when the senescent cells were removed from the old mice infected with a coronavirus and treated with senolytics, it reduced the mortality and increased antiviral antibodies, which led to an increase of the mice’s survival rate by 50%.

Beyond senolytics, nutraceuticals may also provide a preventative strategy to get rid of senescent cells and improve health. For instance, fisetin is a plant flavonol that can be found in many fruits and vegetables, like strawberries, apples, persimmons, onions, and cucumbers. The Mayo Clinic is conducting a trial2 on how fisetin may alleviate frailty in older adults and another trial3 investigating fisetin as a way to remove senescent cells.

Fisetin Is a Natural Defense Against Zombie Cells

Although fisetin can be found in everyday fruits and vegetables, it is difficult to get enough of this nutrient through food alone. This is where daily supplementation plays a critical role, with companies like SRW Labs working to develop dietary supplements that help clear out and recycle senescent cells in the body with key ingredients like fisetin, apigenin, and ​​oleuropein. (Editor’s note: Matthew Yousefzadeh serves on the scientific advisory board for SRW Laboratories.)

Educating consumers on the biological age benefits of nutraceuticals that have science, trials, and labs to prove effectiveness in fighting off chronic diseases that may lead to aging is the future. Fisetin supplementation and a healthy lifestyle may have the potential to bring in positive effects on the road to becoming “wellderly.” As the field of geroscience, or the study of aging, continues to grow, fisetin is an important nutraceutical to earmark to improve the lifespan and healthspan of men and women.

About the Author:

Matthew Yousefzadeh, PhD, is the scientific advisor at SRW Labs (New Zealand. Yousefzadeh has published more than 30 scientific publications, with heavy emphasis on cellular senescence and aging. In 2020, he won the Aging Cell Best Paper Award for his paper on senescent cell accumulation during physiologic and accelerated aging of mice. This prize is awarded annually for the paper considered to be the most outstanding published in Aging Cell in that year. Yousefzadeh has led numerous projects researching the efficacy of fisetin and how it supports healthspan and lifespan. He is also invested in the key drivers that lead to enhancement to cellular senescence and the impact of this on the aging process. He serves on the scientific advisory board for SRW Laboratories. Connect with Yousefzadeh on Twitter @MattYousefzadeh


  1. Camell CD et al. “Senolytics reduce coronavirus-related mortality in old mice.” Science. Published online June 8, 2021.
  2. Alleviation by fisetin of frailty, inflammation, and related measures in older adults (AFFIRM-LITE).” Identifier NCT03675724.
  3. Alleviation by fisetin of frailty, inflammation, and related measures in older women (AFFIRM).” Identifier NCT03430037.

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