Cellular Housekeeping Extends Lifespan

Building on two decades of research, investigators at UT Southwestern have determined that “cellular housekeeping” can extend the lifespan and healthspan of mammals, including human being.

The study is led by the Center for Autophagy Research at UT Southwestern, and was published today in Nature.

The so-called “cellular housekeeping” means autophagy — the process a cell uses to dispose of unwanted or toxic substances that can harm cellular health. The researchers have found that mice with an persistently increased level of autophagy can raise 10 percent extension in lifespan and  less likely to develop age-related spontaneous cancers and age-related pathological changes in the heart and the kidney.

The body’s natural ability to perform autophagy declines with aging, which likely contributes to the aging process itself. If there’s a certain drug that can maintain the autophagy ability, it means a slowed aging process and an extended lifespan.

However,  is increased autophagy throughout mammalian life safe and beneficial? Does it bring both longer and healthier life to human being?

The researchers studies further and found that mice with increased autophagy levels are partially protected against the mouse-model of Alzheimer’s-like disease, and the early death that occurs when the anti-aging hormone klotho is lacking. So it proves that mice with increased cellular housekeeping live longer, healthier lives.

The next step for the researchers is to develop the drugs to improve the autophagy. Based on the drug model that was applied to mice during the experiements, the research team is working to synthesize such drugs.



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