Neurodegeneration and Altered Autophagy

More evidence for autophagy as a good thing - above and beyond its apparently pivotal role in calorie restriction benefits - from ScienceDaily: "Suppressing a cellular cleanup mechanism known as autophagy can accelerate the accumulation of protein aggregates that leads to neural degeneration. [Scientists] report for the first time that the opposite is true as well: Boosting autophagy in the nervous system of fruit flies prevented the age-dependent accumulation of cellular damage in neurons and promoted longevity. ... We discovered that levels of several key pathway members are reduced in Drosophila neural tissue as a normal part of aging. Which suggests there is an age-dependent suppression of autophagy that may be a contributing factor for human neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease. ... Keeping cells free of damaged molecules is critical for neurons because unlike many cells, they do not divide or replace themselves once created at birth. ... They rely on autophagy together with other clearance and detoxification pathways to keep themselves healthy and functioning for decades."

Link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071214144956.htm

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