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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 56:B375-B383 (2001)
© 2001 The Gerontological Society of America

Age-Related Changes in the Autophagic Proteolysis of Rat Isolated Liver Cells

Effects of Antiaging Dietary Restrictions

Alessio Donatia, Gabriella Cavallinia, Cristina Paradisoa, Simona Vittorinia, Maria Polleraa, Zina Goria and Ettore Bergaminia

a Dipartimento di Patologia Sperimentale, Biotecnologie Mediche, Infettivologia ed Epidemiologia, University of Pisa, Italy

Ettore Bergamini, Dipartimento di Patologia Sperimentale, Via Roma 55, 56126 Pisa, Italy E-mail: ebergami{at}

Decision Editor: John Faulkner, PhD

Autophagy is a process that sequesters and degrades organelles and macromolecular constituents of cytoplasm for cellular restructuring and repair and as a source of nutrients for metabolic use in early starvation. The effects of two antiaging dietary regimens (initiated in rats at the age of 2 months), namely, 40% dietary restriction (DR) and every-other-day ad-libitum feeding, that exhibited different effects on metabolism and similar effects on longevity on the age-related changes in the regulation of autophagic proteolysis were studied by monitoring the rate of valine release in the incubation medium from isolated liver cells of male albino Sprague-Dawley rats aged 2, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 27 months. (The liver cells were incubated in vitro with added amino acids and 10-7 M insulin or glucagon.) Age-matched male albino Sprague-Dawley rats fed ad libitum served as a control. Results show that in ad-libitum-fed rats, after a transient increase by age 6 months, autophagic proteolysis and regulation by amino acid exhibit a dramatic age-related decline, and that the age-related changes are prevented by dietary antiaging intervention. A comparison shows that the protective effects of DR and every-other-day ad-libitum feeding are partially different in 24-month-old rats (but the beneficial effects of the two diets on regulation of autophagic proteolysis are always similar). With regard to endocrine regulation, results confirm that the liver cell response to glucagon (but not to insulin) declines with increasing age, and they show that antiaging DRs significantly improve the effects of glucagon (and have no effect on the response to insulin). The interactions of age by diet, glucagon (and in older rats, insulin), and amino acids are significant. It is concluded that DR significantly improves the susceptibility of liver cells to lysosomal degradation, and it prevents decline with increasing age. It is suggested that improved liver autophagy and lysosomal degradation might be part of the antiaging mechanisms of DR.

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