Autophagy: Cellular Repair Renewal and Life Extension
Autophagy is the catabolic process in which the cell undergoes self-degradation of cellular components. Autophagy is a well controlled process, whereby the lysosomes (the digestive vessels within the cell) attach to the cellular component area, and “digests” the area. It is a normal process necessary for maintaining cellular homeostasis and for eliminating old and damaged parts of the cell. The accumulation of damage in the cell constitutes cellular aging and associated cellular malfunctioning. An important element of anti-aging is the ability to repair and renew. Autophagy recycles degraded cellular material for cellular synthesis, repair and growth. Since aging begins at the cellular level, autophagy plays in longevity and health Improperly working autophagy is related to very serious disorders in humans. Autophagy function also declines with age, which contributes to a shortening of the lifespan.(1)
Longevity Regimens Relationship to Autophagy
The potential to extend life has been shown through various methods including calorie restriction and administration of resveratrol (Sirtuin-1 activators). However, in research studies with C. elegans, the life extending effects of these methods appears to be directly related to their activation of autophagy. When these sirtuin activators were applied in C. Elegans which were deficient in autophagic functionality, their life extending effects were lost.(2) It appears that the ability to remove cellular debris and reverse the accumulated aged material in a cell through autophagy is a common link between most life extending therapies.(3) Lifespan, therefore, maintains a STRONG DEPENDENCY on autophagy.
Enhancing Autophagy and Extending Lifespan
Anti-aging and autophagy are very closely linked. So that, while calorie restriction can both increase longevity and autophagy, the neutraceuticals curcumin and resveratrol have also been shown to have this effect.(4)
1. Hubbard VM, et al. Selective autophagy in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis in aging organisms. Biogerontology. 2011 Apr 3.
2. Morselli E, et al. The life span-prolonging effect of sirtuin-1 is mediated by autophagy. Autophagy. 2010 Jan;6(1):186-8.
3. Madeo F, et al. Can autophagy promote longevity? Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Sep;12(9):842-6.
4. Petrovski G, et al. Does autophagy take a front seat in lifespan extension? J Cell Mol Med. 2010 Nov;14(11):2543-51.