Accumulation of damaged cellular components is characteristic of tissues in all organisms as they age and has been proposed to be responsible for their functional loss in ageing.
Autophagy, a highly conserved catabolic mechanism of quality control inside cells, is essential for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and for the orchestration of an efficient cellular response to stresses.
The decrease in autophagic activity in cells may be a driver of different aspects of the ageing phenotype. Thus, enhancement of autophagic activity might decelerate ageing progression by guaranteeing continuous renewal of the cellular proteome, and damaged proteins that are no longer functional, to avoid their accumulation inside cells.
In cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, there is a growing interest in developing ingredients to enhance autophagic activity to slow-down ageing progression.
(Source: Autophagy and ageing: keeping that old broom working. Trends in Genetics 24, 2008)