Autophagy, a highly conserved mechanism of quality control inside cells, is essential for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis and for the orchestration of an efficient cellular response to stress. The decrease in autophagic activity observed in almost all cells and tissues as organisms age was proposed to contribute to different aspects of the aging phenotype and to the aggravation of detrimental age-related diseases. The recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying autophagy and the identification of the subset of genes involved in this process has enabled the use of genetic manipulations to start testing this hypothesis. Here, I review the recent genetic evidence in support of tight connections between autophagy, health span and aging.
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