This is How Autophagy Supports Brain Function


Autophagy has gained widespread attention for its numerous health benefits, but have you ever wondered how it specifically supports brain function?

Here are some research-backed facts about the brain-boosting power of autophagy.

how autophagy supports brain function

Autophagy is getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. It comes with a bunch of health benefits. Benefits like helping you live longer, boosting your immune system, and keeping your metabolism in check. But one crucial thing people aren’t talking about enough is how it can seriously maintain your brain health.

Your brain is like the boss of your body. It’s in charge of everything from your feelings to your bodily functions. So, understanding how autophagy plays a role in keeping your brain healthy is key to realizing all the ways it can help you.

Let’s break down two important aspects of autophagy’s role in brain health without the jargon:

1. Autophagy and cognitive function of the brain

Autophagy plays a critical role in our brain’s cognitive function, especially as we age. It’s like our brain’s self-cleaning process. And as we get older, this process starts to slow down. This slowdown in autophagy is linked to declines in cognitive fitness, which means our memory and thinking skills can suffer.

The importance of autophagy in the cognitive function of the brain was highlighted in a recent study published in the Journal of Current Biology. In this study, the researchers discovered that when we engage in memory-boosting activities, autophagy in a specific part of our brain called the hippocampus gets a boost too. This is crucial because the hippocampus is essential for forming new memories and learning new things.

To test this, scientists activate autophagy in the hippocampus of mice using some genetic tricks and drugs. They found that such enhanced autophagy had a remarkable effect. It improves memory by enhancing how our brain cells communicate with each other. As we grow older, our autophagy levels drop. But the good news is that restoring them can help reverse age-related memory problems.

Additionally, the study found that factors in our blood, especially a molecule called osteocalcin, can directly encourage autophagy in the hippocampus.

This means there might be ways to boost autophagy and keep your brain sharp as you age. By understanding autophagy better, we could find new ways to fight age-related memory decline and thinking issues.

2. Autophagy and age-related diseases

Autophagy plays a vital role in fighting age-related diseases. As we grow older, our brain cells can get damaged easily. This makes us more susceptible to these illnesses. Autophagy steps in to keep our cells healthy by removing the damaged parts.

Take Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, for example—two common age-related brain problems. Alzheimer’s makes you forget things, while Parkinson’s messes with your ability to move. In both cases, there’s a buildup of bad protein pieces in the brain. In Alzheimer’s, it’s called beta-amyloid, and in Parkinson’s, it’s those troublesome structures called “Lewy bodies” made by the abnormal accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein.

Studies in animals show that when autophagy doesn’t work right in the brain, things go wrong. Research on animal brains proves that autophagy is crucial for stopping the buildup of these harmful proteins. When autophagy isn’t doing its job, these toxic proteins pile up in the brain and ultimately lead to these diseases.

This tells us that when it comes to brain problems like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, autophagy might be off-duty. This highlights how important autophagy is for keeping us away from serious brain-related diseases.  

In a nutshell, autophagy is your brain’s superhero, keeping your brain cells clean and protecting you from getting sick as you get older. By learning more about how autophagy works, we might find new ways to stay healthy as we age and have a better life.

Written by


Leave a Comment