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Autophagy is a natural cellular process in eukaryotes — cells with membrane-bound organelles. It's the regulated, destructive process in which a cell eliminates components that are unnecessary or not working correctly. Scientists have limited understanding of how autophagy works, but it has attracted a lot of attention as a way to treat or cure disease.

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1. Regulation

Studies show that the regulation of autophagy is very complicated. In many cells, amino acid depletion seems to induce autophagy, though each amino acid has a different effect. Leucine, for instance, predominantly affects skeletal and cardiac muscle. The exact mechanism used by the body to control this response is unknown, but researchers speculate that insulin and the endocrine system play a big role.

amino acid depletion yulka3ice / Getty Images
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