Researchers from the Institute of Molecular Biology, Mainz, Germany made a breakthrough in identifying the genes which contribute to the process called autophagy and understand the origin of the ageing process. Autophagy is one of the most cells critical process which helps in maintaining cellular homeostasis; promotes health and fitness while young and process of ageing in later stages of life. This study was published in the journal Genes & Development and titled as “Neuronal inhibition of the autophagy nucleation complex extends lifespan in post-reproductive C. elegans”.
This research clearly suggests that ageing process arises as a quirk of evolution. The research team was able to track the pro-longevity signals and turn off the autophagy process to a specific tissue (neurons) in older worms. This resulted in prolonging the worms life and increase the total health of the worms which kept the muscles and rest of the body in good shape. The expected net result is 50% extension of life. But the exact mechanism which causes the neurons to stay healthier for a longer time is unknown, finding this mechanism could have real-world implications.
As dysfunctional autophagy is associated with many neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, knowing completely about these autophagy genes could help preserve the neuronal integrity in such diseases.