Autophagy is a cell self-digestion process via lysosomes that clears "cellular waste", including aberrantly modified proteins or protein aggregates and damaged organelles. Therefore, autophagy is considered a protein and organelle quality control mechanism that maintains normal cellular homeostasis. Dysfunctional autophagy has been observed in ageing tissues and several ageing-associated diseases. Lifespan of model organisms such as yeast, worms, flies, and mice can be extended through promoting autophagy, either by genetic manipulations such as over-expression of Sirtuin 1, or by administrations of rapamycin, resveratrol or spermidine. The evidence supports that autophagy may play an important role in delaying ageing or extending lifespan. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about autophagy and its regulation, outline recent developments ie the genetic and pharmacological manipulations of autophagy that affects the lifespan, and discuss the role of autophagy in the ageing-related diseases.
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