Autophagy: a cell repair mechanism that retards ageing and age-associated diseases and can be intensified pharmacologically

Mol Aspects Med. Oct-Dec 2006;27(5-6):403-10. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2006.08.001. Epub 2006 Sep 14.


The process of ageing denotes a post-maturational deterioration of cells and organisms with the passage of time, an increased vulnerability to challenges and prevalence of age-associated diseases, and a decreased ability to survive. Causes may be found in an enhanced production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative damage and not completed housekeeping, with an accumulation of altered ROS-hypergenerating organelles in older cells. It has been shown that autophagy is the only tier of defence against the accumulation of effete mitochondria and peroxisomes; that functioning of autophagy declines with increasing age and determinates cell and individual lifespan; that autophagy can be intensified by drugs; and that the pharmacological intensification of autophagy may be a big step towards retardation of ageing and prevention and therapy of age-associated diseases including neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Animals
  • Autophagy* / drug effects
  • Cellular Senescence / drug effects*
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology