Defective Autophagy and Mitophagy in Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease

Michael Tran, P. Hemachandra Reddy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Aging is the time-dependent process that all living organisms go through characterized by declining physiological function due to alterations in metabolic and molecular pathways. Many decades of research have been devoted to uncovering the cellular changes and progression of aging and have revealed that not all organisms with the same chronological age exhibit the same age-related declines in physiological function. In assessing biological age, factors such as epigenetic changes, telomere length, oxidative damage, and mitochondrial dysfunction in rescue mechanisms such as autophagy all play major roles. Recent studies have focused on autophagy dysfunction in aging, particularly on mitophagy due to its major role in energy generation and reactive oxidative species generation of mitochondria. Mitophagy has been implicated in playing a role in the pathogenesis of many age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The purpose of our article is to highlight the mechanisms of autophagy and mitophagy and how defects in these pathways contribute to the physiological markers of aging and AD. This article also discusses how mitochondrial dysfunction, abnormal mitochondrial dynamics, impaired biogenesis, and defective mitophagy are related to aging and AD progression. This article highlights recent studies of amyloid beta and phosphorylated tau in relation to autophagy and mitophagy in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number612757
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jan 8 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • aging
  • autophagy
  • mitochondria reactive oxygen species
  • mitophagy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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