More Autophagy Research

Autophagy is important in longevity, and research groups are investigating this process with an the intent of developing ways to safely manipulate it: "two cellular processes - lipid metabolism and autophagy - work together to influence worms' lifespan. Autophagy, a major mechanism cells use to digest and recycle their own contents, has become the subject of intense scientific scrutiny over the past few years, particularly since the process (or its malfunction) has been implicated in many human diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer's disease. This study provides a more detailed understanding of the roles autophagy and lipid metabolism play in aging. ... The particular worm model we used in this study is known to live longer than normal worms, but we didn't completely understand why. Our results suggest that increased autophagy has an anti-aging effect, possibly by promoting the activity of a fat-digesting enzyme. In other words, it seems that recycling fat is a good thing - at least for worms. ... When worms have more fat in supply than they have demand for, it has to be stored. In these long-lived worms however, there's activation of a seemingly futile cycle of breaking down fat and re-synthesizing it. Only we found that breaking down fat is actually beneficial and perhaps not so futile after all. ... On average, they survived 25 percent longer than their normal counterparts."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/smri-rfm083111.php

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