Basal autophagic flux measured in blood correlates positively with age in adults at increased risk of type 2 diabetes

Julien Bensalem, Xiao Tong Teong, Kathryn J. Hattersley, Leanne K. Hein, Célia Fourrier, Kai Liu, Amy T. Hutchison, Leonie K. Heilbronn, Timothy J. Sargeant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Preclinical data show that autophagy delays age-related disease. It has been postulated that age-related disease is—at least in part—caused by an age-related decline in autophagy. However, autophagic flux has never been measured in humans across a spectrum of aging in a physiologically relevant context. To address this critical gap in knowledge, the objective of this cross-sectional observational study was to measure basal autophagic flux in whole blood taken from people at elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes and correlate it with chronological age. During this study, 119 people were recruited and five people were excluded during sample analysis such that 114 people were included in the final analysis. Basal autophagic flux measured in blood and correlations with parameters such as age, body weight, fat mass, AUSDRISK score, blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin HbA1c, blood glucose and insulin, blood lipids, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, plasma protein carbonylation, and plasma β-hexosaminidase activity were analysed. Despite general consensus in the literature that autophagy decreases with age, we found that basal autophagic flux increased with age in this human cohort. This is the first study to report measurement of basal autophagic flux in a human cohort and its correlation with age. This increase in basal autophagy could represent a stress response to age-related damage. These data are significant not only for their novelty but also because they will inform future clinical studies and show that measurement of basal autophagic flux in a human cohort is feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 27 Jul 2023


  • Aging
  • Autophagy
  • Cell biology
  • Diabetes
  • Human

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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