Healthy Living

Newly Discovered 'Backup' Immune System Could Help Doctors Improve Crohn's Treatment

A closer look at autophagy

A closer look at autophagy

In simple terms, autophagy is the body’s housekeeping system. As waste is produced or proteins are used, the autophagy process combs through the cells and waste to determine what to recycle and what to remove. Harmful pathogens or damaged cells go; healthy nutrients and proteins are stored or pushed back through the body, reducing the amount of energy the body needs to produce more. For example, autophagy allows the body to survive starvation and other stressful situations by releasing stored nutrients.

Put another way, autophagy is our body’s principal tools to surround, remove, and recycle used items.

For Crohn’s patients, autophagy is particularly important in its role for inflammation and cytokine production. The autophagy process can recycle activated proteins to limit cytokine production, which is overactive in Crohn’s disease.