Life and health span can be prolonged by calorie limitation or by pharmacologic agents that mimic the effects of caloric restriction. Both starvation and the genetic inactivation of nutrient signaling converge on the induction of autophagy, a cytoplasmic recycling process that counteracts the age-associated accumulation of damaged organelles and proteins as it improves the metabolic fitness of cells. Here we review experimental findings indicating that inhibition of the major nutrient and growth-related signaling pathways as well as the upregulation of anti-aging pathways mediate life span extension via the induction of autophagy. Furthermore, we discuss mounting evidence suggesting that autophagy is not only necessary but, at least in some cases, also sufficient for increasing longevity.
Frank Madeo, Andreas Zimmermann, Maria Chiara Maiuri, Guido Kroemer