Ketosis cleans our cells
In going through and catching up on all the online issues of Science, I finally reached the most current issue, which contains an article of interest. Originally published in 1970 in the journal Nature, this article was featured in the current issue of Sage KE, an anti-aging supplement to Science, as a blast from the past in their Classic Papers section. The paper was the first to show that the accumulation of non-functional, or junk, proteins play a role in the aging process. This article caught my eye because of another on ketosis I had read recently and had touched upon in a previous post.
Anti-aging scientists are now pretty sure that one of the forces behind the aging and senescence process is the junk protein matter that accumulates in the cells, hampering cellular function. If the junk builds up enough, it basically crowds out the working part of the cell, killing the cell off in the process.
As this inexorable process proceeds, more and more cells function less and less well until we, as a being, cease to function. There are other processes driving the aging function besides this accumulation of cellular debris, but if we can make some headway with cleaning out the junk, then we should be able to make the cells, and by extension us, function better for longer.
We have little chemically-operated waste disposal systems in our cells called lysosomes. Cellular debris that gets hauled to the lysosomes and dumped in gets degraded into individual amino acids, which are released into the circulation and used to re-synthesize other, functional, proteins.
The process of transporting the junk proteins to the lysosomes is handled by enzymes designed for that purpose found within the cells. As long as the enzymes are working up to snuff, the junk doesn’t accumulate. But as the Nature paper shows, the aging process takes its toll. Random errors in protein synthesis of these enzymes due to the aging process means that some end up being functional while others aren’t. The non-functional enzymes then not only don’t help haul the junk to the lysosomes, they themselves become junk. It’s easy to see what’s going to happen as time marches on.