Neuromelanin Organelles, a Garbage Dump of Last Resort in Aging Brain Cells

Autophagy is a collection of several quality control processes in which broken cell components, damaged proteins, and metabolic waste are broken down and recycled. In the most familiar of these processes, the material to be recycled is wrapped in a membrane, an autophagosome, which then migrates to a lysosome, another membrane-bound organelle packed with enzymes capable of taking apart just about any molecule it is likely to encounter.


Unfortunately, this recycling process falters with age in a number of ways, the consequences particularly apparent in very long-lived cells such as the neurons of the central nervous system. Lysosomes become packed with the few classes of compound that they struggle to break down, growing inefficient and bloated. Autophagosomes lose the mechanisms required to transport their contents efficiently to their destination. Cells become overwhelmed with metabolic waste, and dysfunctional as a result.

neuronscentral nervous systemgrowing inefficient and bloatedoverwhelmed with metabolic waste

This open access paper describes one of the outcomes of this decline, the accumulation of garbage dump organelles inside brain cells, probably lysosomes or autophagosomes or the fusion of both that have come to the point of outright failure of function. If autophagy can be restored in aged neurons, will these additional waste-packed organelles


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