You are here

Autophagy, or more simply, the process of "self-eating"

Аuthor: Umerzakova Aigerim

Editor: Аibulova Diana






            Probably, each of you at least once thought about what principle our body works with you and how it fights with the accumulation of "bodily wastes" in it, which is a consequence of not quite healthy lifestyle. But few people go deep into the so-called process of purification, which takes place on the molecular level. The correct purification of the body to prolong youth and prevent various diseases is autophagy. Autophagy is a way to rid cells of unnecessary organelles, and it is also part of the process of controlling apoptosis (programmed cell death), inflammation, immuno-adaptive and many other reactions occurring at the cellular level.


        In 2016, Yoshinori Osumi was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of autophagy mechanisms. However, this word was invented in 1963 by Christian de Duve, a scientist who himself won the Nobel Prize in Physiology for the discovery of cellular organelles - lysosomes. For many years, lysosomes were considered a kind of "dump" for all other unnecessary organelles. However, in the course of research on these processes, there were more and more questions on this subject that had no answer: how does a cell renew itself? Why does the "dump" not increase in size hundreds of times of its lifetime of such cells as, for example, neurons?  And at this stage, it would be logical to assume that the cells are quite independent of external food sources and are able to use the already available internal resources several times.


     Osumi used as an object for experiments single celled mushrooms, which tend to quickly reproduce by sexless means. In the course of his experiment, the scientist concluded that the yeast, which was in conditions with sufficient food, visually did not undergo almost any changes. However, when the yeast grew on low nutrient media, fragments of the cell surrounded by membranes quickly accumulated in their vacuoles. These were autophagosomes. Thus, the assumption that cell fragments particularly quickly accumulate in "starving" cells confirms the hypothesis that autophagy helps the cell to reuse existing resources under starvation.


       After a little analysis of how the mechanism of autophagy works, everyone has a question in his head, what exactly processes in our body it will run? Ahead of all your guesswork, I will give a little clarity in this question to better understand the whole process. As mentioned above, autophagy is a unique mechanism for purification of the body from unnecessary cells, which consists in such processes as:

- the destruction of bacteria and viruses;

- preventing carcinogenesis and neurodegenerative diseases by removing defective proteins;

- tissue renewal;

- energy supply.


      Separately, I would like to highlight one important problem of our time, to which many people are exposed - insulin resistance, ie diabetes mellitus type 2. Before acquaintance with this theory, I sincerely believed in the myth about proper nutrition, where it was always stated that one should eat at least 5-6 times in small portions. And what was my surprise when I went deeper into this topic and concluded that frequent snacks between meals, as well as the consumption of large amounts of carbohydrates lead to a constant production of insulin hormone, resulting in a high probability of insulin resistance - a state in which a sufficient amount of insulin is released, but the cellular receptors for some reason or another can not detect the high insulin concentration. The constant production of insulin also blocks the growth hormone, the main fat-burning hormone. The natural increase in the level of growth hormone in the human body occurs just before bedtime, and is especially pronounced in the morning, continuing until the first meal. This is due to lack of food during sleep, which means no provocation of insulin production and therefore its maximum reduction by the time of the first meal.


      This is only a small part of the existing information about the beneficial properties of autophagy, and at the moment there is a huge amount of research on this topic. With this article, we would like to encourage you to review your current lifestyle and extract valuable information about the importance of maintaining health by shaping the right eating habits. At any stage in your life, it is never too late to rethink your priorities and start taking care of yourself and your own health.