The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 13 No. 2 • April 2010

Another Autophagy Inducer: Trehalose

Trehalose is a natural disaccharide found in many non-mammalian species that protects cells against various environmental stresses (for example, by acting as an osmolyte). Trehalose can be found in our FoldRight™ formulation of osmolytes that act as chaperones to help proteins fold properly. A recent paper1 (thanks again, Will) identifies trehalose as an enhancer of autophagy, a cell-digesting process that, for instance, allows for the clearance of aggregate-prone proteins such as mutant huntingtin fragments (Huntington’s disease), other polyQ mutations, mutant alpha-synucleins (as in Parkington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases), and tau (as in Alzheimer’s). Though trehalose enhances autophagy, it does not do so by inhibiting mTOR.

The recent paper1 notes that, among other things, trehalose inhibits amyloid formation of insulin in vitro and prevents aggregation of beta-amyloid associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The authors explain that the clearance of aggregate-prone proteins such as those mentioned above depends strongly on macroautophagy, generally referred to as autophagy. In this paper, the authors identify a novel role for trehalose as an autophagy inducer, leading to enhanced clearance of aggregation-prone proteins and protecting cells from subsequent pro-apoptotic insults resulting therefrom.


  1. Sarkar et al. Trehalose, a novel mTOR-independent autophagy enhancer, accelerates the clearance of mutant Huntingtin and alpha-synuclein. J Biol Chem 282(8):5641-52 (2007).

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