Understanding Autophagy and Aging

Autophagy and aging, how well do these two related? does autophagy really have an effect on aging? Read on to find out.


What is autophagy aging? The word autophagy is gotten from two Greek words namely, auto and phagy. Auto means self, while phage means eating. Autophagy is best defined, as a physiological process the human body goes through to deal with cell destruction within the body. When a cell is stressed autophagy process is heightened and increases. The cells get stressed when they are deprived of growth factors and/or nutrients. Autophagy comes in at this point to supply an alternative provision of intracellular substrates and building blocks. These help to generate the needed energy for cell continuous survival.

Certain conditions triggered the cell destruction function of autophagy. This is a type of programmed or autophagic cell death. A popular term for it is apoptosis. However, autophagy is listed as a programmed nonapoptotic cell death consisting of different mediators and pathways from apoptosis. It maintains the balance between synthesizing the components of the cell and the breaking down of unnecessary or damaged organelles.

Effect of Autophagy

This physiological process allows the cell to withstand external stress, for example, nutrient deprivation. This process also helps the cell to survive internal stress, such as the build-up of damaged pathogens, organelles, or the invasion of the infective organism. Eukaryotic systems all go through autophagy, including plants, fungi, slime mold, rodents, humans, insects, nematodes, and fruit flies.  

What Is Aging?

Aging is an irreversible and inevitable physiological process that entails becoming older. It is an environmentally modulated and genetically determined process. There is no definite explanation for this other than it being a phase of this life. When an individual is born he first goes through the phase of infancy, childhood, adolescence to adulthood, and then grows old. Everyone does not begin getting old at the same time even the body organs do not all age at the same time.

Effect Of Aging

The older people get, the more experience and knowledge is acquired. These are some of the positive values that come from the years spent. There is also the not too beautiful side of aging, and that is the fact that your organs will begin to function less effectively. The brain functions also decline and may not be able to carry out some of the activities or to learn new things. Hormones decline also come up, and this leads to menopause in females and low testosterone in males.

With aging comes fewer neurons, less muscle mass and strength, fewer nephrons, and any more. It is a natural phenomenon, so there is no cause for alarm. However, there are certain ways by which you can help your body still function well and to avoid certain age-related symptoms and diseases.

Some of the symptoms of old age include grey hair, bald hair, poor eyesight, lean muscle mass, frequent falling, drooping eyelids, and difficulty in hearing. Various factors bring an increased risk of illnesses like the aging of the pancreas organ, which inhibits insulin secretion. This factor can result in diabetes, weight gain, narrow blood vessels, heightened blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Engaging in unhealthy habits can compound these diseases e.g smoking and alcohol consumption.

It is very possible to avoid these negative side effects of aging, some people lived a healthy long life. While it may be true that genetics is a major contributing factor to this, there are also lifestyle habits and activities that can help one live a healthy long life.

These lifestyle changes involve engaging in routine exercise, mental exercises like solving puzzles and math problems, eating a balanced diet, and paying attention to vitamins. There are also some available supplements that you can take to replenish your body’s supply of vitamins and minerals. A doctor will be in the best position to prescribe what you need based on your medical history, life patterns, body needs, and current health condition. Most importantly be happy and age with grace. 

Autophagy Aging

Autophagy is fully involved in almost all aging areas. Autophagy takes care of the cell, it recycles unwanted and damaged structures in the cell. In a form of autophagy known as the chaperone-mediated, specific chaperone proteins carry other molecules to lysosomes. In another form known as macroautophagy, an autophagosome engulfs materials that need to be destroyed. This autophagosome then moves to and fuses with the lysosome. Microautophagy entails the direct engulfing of materials by the lysosomes.

Generally, the endpoint is always lysosomes where different enzymes break the waste substances into reusable parts. The main point of autophagy is decluttering cells and removing their waste, thus resulting in minor and lesser problems to the surrounding tissues.

To a certain extent, this act of preserving cells seems to be a notable aging determinant. Majority of the laboratory methods to discover how to slow aging involved increased autophagy. The specimens used were nematodes, mice, and flies. Cells usually react to any kind of stress by increasing the autophagy process. This is amongst the reason why mild and short-term exposure to diverse stress boosts health, this is a process called hormesis.

Insufficient nutrients, radiation, cold, heat, etc can cause enhanced health and prolonged life span. This outcome is possible partly due to autophagy. Animals with improper autophagy do not enjoy the health benefits and long life span supplied by the restriction of calories.

In conclusion, autophagy on aging is a possible term as there are links and dotted lines that connect both. Also considering that autophagy reduces with age too. It is essential to recall that increased autophagy has its limited upside, a form of therapeutic approach. This limit can be seen in calorie restriction. Imagine doing twice the calorie restrictions of up-regulating autophagy at therapy, but it still won’t add more years to your life.

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