Autophagy is a highly regulated intracellular process involved in the turnover of most cellular constituents and in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. It is well-established that the basal autophagic activity of living cells decreases with age, thus contributing to the accumulation of damaged macromolecules during aging. Conversely, the activity of this catabolic pathway is required for lifespan extension in animal models such as Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster.
Studies in humans and in animal models show negative correlations between thyroid hormone (TH) levels and longevity. TH signaling is implicated in maintaining and integrating metabolic homeostasis at multiple levels, notably centrally in the hypothalamus but also in peripheral tissues. The question is thus raised of how TH signaling is modulated during aging in different tissues. Classically, TH actions on mitochondria and heat production are obvious candidates to link negative effects of TH to aging.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health care and medicine, has a well-organized materia medica in which plants form a dominant part. A key illustration of the exploitation of this knowledge toward the development of a modern drug is the isolation and characterization of two antihyperlipidemic compounds, Z-, and E-guggulsterone from the tree Commiphora mukul, the exudate of which has been traditionally used for mitigating lipid disorders.
Berberine, an alkaloid derivative from Berberis vulgaris L., has been used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diarrhea and diabetes, but the underlying mechanisms for treating diabetes are not fully understood. Recent studies suggested that berberine has many beneficial biological effects, including anti-inflammation. Because type 1 diabetes is caused by T cell-mediated destruction of beta cells and severe islet inflammation, we hypothesized that berberine could ameliorate type 1 diabetes through its immune regulation properties.