Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic and fatal lung disease that significantly impacts the aging population globally. To date, anti-fibrotic, immunosuppressive, and other adjunct therapy demonstrate limited efficacies. Advancing our understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of lung fibrosis will provide a future path for the cure. Cellular senescence has gained substantial interest in recent decades due to the increased incidence of fibroproliferative lung diseases in the older age group. Furthermore, the pathologic state of cellular senescence that includes maladaptive tissue repair, decreased regeneration, and chronic inflammation resembles key features of progressive lung fibrosis. This review describes regulatory pathways of cellular senescence and discusses the current knowledge on the senescence of critical cellular players of lung fibrosis, including epithelial cells (alveolar type 2 cells, basal cells, etc.), fibroblasts, and immune cells, their phenotypic changes, and the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which these cells contribute to the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. A few challenges in the field include establishing appropriate in vivo experimental models and identifying senescence-targeted signaling molecules and specific therapies to target senescent cells, known collectively as “senolytic” or “senotherapeutic” agents.
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