Researchers from the University of Warwick, in the United Kingdom, have discoveredhow cells respond to fasting and activate the process called autophagy, which means that a healthier lifestyle can be promoted to help people maintain a healthy life, as published in the magazine ‘Cell Reports’.

The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, and its levels have more than tripled in the past 30 years, with more than half the population estimated to be obese by 2050 in the UK. Obesity is a significant risk factor for increased morbidity and mortality.The cause of the rapid rise in obesity was attributed to modern lifestyles, including the high-calorie diet.

Intermittent fasting,fasting on alternate days and other forms of periodic calorie restriction have gained popularityfor the past few years because they are considered beneficial in maintaining a healthy body weight. To respond to fasting, cells use autophagy, a process of cellular self-recycling.

A team of researchers led by Professor Ioannis Nezis of the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, discoveredhow cells activate autophagy genes during fasting.

In the article, Dr. Anne-Claire Jacomin, Dr. Stavroula Petridi, PhD student Marisa Di Monaco and Professor Ioannis Nezis have discoveredproteins that are necessary for the transcription of autophagy genes.

The proteins are called Sequoia, YL-1 and Sir2, these proteins interact with the protein related to cytoplasmic autophagy Atg8a.These interactions recruit Atg8a in the nucleus to control autophagy gene transcription.This is the first study to discover a nuclear role of the Atg8a cytoplasmic protein.

The lead author of the research, Professor Ioannis Nezis of the University of Warwick School of Life Sciences, explains that“understand the molecular mechanisms of autophagy gene activation during fastingIt will help us use interventions to activate the autophagic pathways to maintain a normal body weight and promote healthy well-being. “

What is autophagy?

Autophagy is afundamental process for the human beingsince it allows the survival of cells in stressful situations and participates in cell death.

Autophagy has been known for over 50 years, butits importance in physiology and medicine was not recognized until the 1990s,precisely thanks to the discoveries of Oshumi, who studied the role of proteins encoded by key genes in autophagy and outlined how stress signals initiate autophagy and the mechanism by which proteins and protein complexes promote different stages of their developing.

But what is autophagy?It would literally be ‘eat yourself’, because it involves the process in which cells self-destruct. Being more concrete, from the Superior Center for Scientific Research they explain to Infosalus that autophagy is a process of intracellular degradation that allows the recycling of cellular components to maintain cellular balance (homeostasis). It is not about cell death, “it is the cell’s survival process,” they point out.

To see it in a simple way, it would be a cellular process that is responsible for the degradation and recycling of cellular components with the aim of keeping the body stable. Also hasan essential role in obtaining nutrients under fasting conditions,in the degradation of damaged organelles (structures contained in the cytoplasm of cells), therefore it is a mechanism that allows cells to survive under stress conditions.