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Autophagy 101 – Everything You Need to Know – with Dr. William Dunn

Dr. Don, it is an incredible honor to
have the opportunity to learn from you and the research that you’ve done over
your entire career around autophagy. Can you tell us a little bit about what
first got you interested in autophagy? So basically, I started, got my PhD at
Penn State University and I, sort of, was interested in there, in autophagy,
then a little bit. But we weren’t really doing anything like that. Did a postdoc
at Albert Einstein, then with Johns Hopkins. But, anyhow, when I was on Hopkins, we
started, I had to find a different direction to get away from the lab I was
in so I decided we’re gonna go do autophagy because at that time autophagy
needed a different angle everything that was looked at autophagy was biochemistry and I decided to go to the cell biology part. -Okay, so tell us
a little bit sort of like in a nutshell what is autophagy and we’re gonna talk
more about this later but the Nobel Prize in medicine was won just in
2016 for autophagy. So, how many years ago, roughly, did you did you first get
interested in autophagy and then define it quickly. -I got interested
in autophagy over 30 years ago. -Wow- It was defined by Christian De Duve back
in the 60s, 1960s and such, and he identified it based on morphology, just
looking at the cells by electron microscopy and he actually was able to
see these vacuoles which were unusual and Christian de Duve who won
Nobel Prize also by identifying lysosomes and some other organelles but
predominantly lysosomes and he did this by a variety of methods but the first
method, one of the best methods, was electron microscopy when you could
actually visually see the cell and look what’s in the cell. So he found these
unusual structures, very unusual structures, that were membrane bound that
were within the cell and these structures had cell components in there.
So he came up with the idea of autophagy, or self eating, -Yes- so the cell was
actually eating itself, it was grabbing itself. Its
organelles, its cytoplasm, parts of itself and putting them into vacuoles which
would then end up in the lysosomes. -So if I were to sort of, sort of, give an
analogy almost within the house, which is like the cell right, so if we’re in our
house the autophagy is essentially cleaning
out, cleaning, doing the housekeeping within the house so that the house
sparkles and is looking beautiful and ultimately for the cell it’s
in its most healthy form. How would you, sort of, what analogy would
you give us? -So basically I mean when when it was first examined by De Duve he
just thought it was pathology he really really thought there was something wrong
going on in the cell the cell this is not a normal process -This cleansing- This cleansing or this self eating. And you can see, I mean, you can understand, like,
why would the cell want to eat itself -Right- Yeah, so they at that time they
thought there was something going on and then when Mortimer came up on board and
that’s that was the that was the person that really got me into the field he
realized that this process was activated when the cells were starved of amino
acids. So he put two and two together then indeed when the amino acids were
low in the cell, the cell then was eating itself to provide the cell with amino
acids. So he considered this self he considered this process of autophagy more
of essential for cell survival so that the cells can survive various stresses
nutrient stresses and such. Then it got more interesting more and more years
later. But, anyhow, at that point in time that’s when I got interested in it as to
what was going on it needed this cell biology approach and I started working
on it at Hopkins and ever since after I left Hopkins I’ve been at the University
of Florida which has really been better beneficial to me because back then when
I first started the best way of examining and looking at autophagy was
by electron microscopy that’s as big microscopes
high-resolution microscopes basically which not, which only usually anatomy
cell biology departments have. First, it started with cancer. So it became
interested in cancer, so cancer there was two, basically, fields of thought one was
the cancer cells shut down autophagy and that will allow the cells to grow more
because they want they’re not degrading themselves so they can build and grow
faster and you know dividing… – Healthy cells or the cancer cells?- …the cancer cells -Got it. –
the cancer cells, so one train of thought was the fact that what the cancer cells the fact
that they grow so well is they don’t degrade they don’t eat themselves so
they grow real well the other train of thought was the fact that the autophagy
protects the cells so there were two things that were actually going on and
actually both of those things are actually true now as well depending upon
the different cancers when they were looking at the cancers and they were
looking at the chemotherapy agents of effects of chemotherapy on the cancers
and they were seeing that some of these cancers were more resistant to the
chemotherapy. So they started looking at, well, maybe it’s the autophagy that’s
actually being activated to protect the cell. So with the LC3 marker, yes, they
ever see the autophagy actually turning on… -To protect the cell- …so at that time
there was there were a number of inhibitors that were out there. None of
them that were very specific, but there were a number of inhibitors out there so
these were compounds that were used routinely so when added these compounds
in the presence of the chemotherapy agents the cells were dying faster.
That’s because you shut down the cell protection by shutting down the autophagy
and that sort of really got people really interested in looking at ways of
inhibiting autophagy. -What is your dream of of where this work, your life’s work, will
go over the next decade?- I’m hoping that we can regulate autophagy in such a
way that we can cure some of the diseases are basically may make make the
cells healthier, to avoid the cancers, to avoid the pathogens that we basically
are basically exposed to and such like that.
Possibly we’re getting back to aging again really to make the cells healthier
for longer periods of time and such. But that’s a little tricky because you
really want the times you want to turn it off but other times you want to turn
it on. For aging you sort of want to turn it on you know you really want to
basically help the cell or tell the cell that you really want to get rid of the
old organelles and such like that under the eight in in older cells the cells
the autophagy pathway is a little bit reduced it’s not as efficient so
the idea is to activate it and turn it on now during normal growth of the tumor
when the blood supply has yet to come in the tumors are turning on autophagy to
survive. See what you would actually want to shut down at often G at that
particular time as well before the blood supply gets to the tumor, So, different
conditions you want to turn off autophagy, other conditions you want to turn on
autophagy. So there’s a big area now of looking at the role with autophagy and
metastasis of the tumors. Not only inhibiting the tumors but also in the
metastasis of the tumors. So, again, when you’re, yeah, when you wake up in the
morning you haven’t eaten in a while autophagy’s kicked in, that’s because your
amino acid levels in the bloodstream are low… -Right, and, for example, I’m
intermittent fasting this morning so I’m not I won’t be eating probably until
sometime later on this afternoon and I know that the intermittent fasting is
also helping to activate the autophagy in my body and because my body is is, I hope,
you know healthy I’m getting that anti-aging youth activating cellular
effect. -Yes, basically, you’re right. So sometimes it in the intermittent fasting is
sometimes easier for some people than other people… -Right- ….you’re really pretty
much starving when you wake up, you’re really angry when you wake up. But once
you get past nine or ten o’clock then it sort of seems to be okay. But you have to
be engaged in something so you’re really not even thinking about, ‘Boy I’m hungry’
right now And you’re intermittent fasting
specifically to activate your autophagy? -Yeah yeah, mine is specifically to go after
the autophagy. Mostly with the heart and stuff like that. -Tell us a little bit
about the heart.- Well, the heart the heart like I said those those cells are not
dividing and basically with the heart, which beats all the time, it requires a
lot of ATP the mitochondria age relatively quickly compared to other
cell types that don’t require as much ATP as the heart does. So, you really
have to have a good functional autophagy pathway or way of keeping it turned on
to get rid of the damaged mitochondria or to get rid of the damaged organelles
in the heart. So, that’s sort of one of the reasons I’m I’m more interested in
it is really to give me a better or healthier heart fascinating so heart
health liver health any of the organs or any parts of our body where the cells
are not dividing those are the organs or the cells that we really need to take
the best care of and and activate the autophagy in those types of cells. -Correct
the kidney was actually the most active in looking at it in turning on autophagy and very few people are actually studying the role of autophagy in the
kidney function and such but it was it was looked at as being one of the most
active organs turning on autophagy. -If you could sort of wave your magic wand
and have an area of focus around autophagy and disease prevention where the
researchers really put their, their attention there, where would you want the
scientists to be to be working? -Mine would be more cancer and basically I
would think, you know, the cancer I would pick would be the bone cancers the
osteosarcomas, right now. The reason I’m keen on osteosarcomas is because that
hits a lot of the younger people the kids and such. You know, I would love to
see more focus on that. Aging, yeah, I don’t know about aging.
Aging is gonna happen, unfortunately. I’m not sure how well you can slow it down,
not sure. -Dr. Dunn it’s just so fascinating to to learn from you and the
work that you’ve done over the past 30 years is such important work and it’s it
is it’s a true honor to be able to sit and have this conversation thank you
very much. -Oh, thanks for asking me.

Randall Smitham



  1. Healthy Living With Chris Gault Posted on May 13, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for the informative video.

  2. Keto Mama Posted on May 13, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    I love all the information i can get. Thank you much!

  3. Little Voice Posted on May 13, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    Can you trigger autophagy through 18:6 if during the feeding window you are eating to gain weight (ideally lean muscle) as part of weight restoration in recovery from illness? Or does weight gain in many form prevent autophagy and it's anti aging effects?

  4. RocksteadyRuth Posted on May 13, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Love everything I have learned about autophagy with Naomi. I don’t know how old she is, but she looks amazing , glowing skin, glossy hair, beautiful figure and the warmest, genuine smile……plus she makes listening easy, as do all her interviewees I have seen to date. 🙏✨

  5. Robert Demarais Posted on May 13, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    Great video! I feel really good while fasting so it's probably the autophagy kicking in.

  6. Nick Posted on May 13, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    How are you and Dr. Dunn measuring that you are activating autophagy through intermittent fasting?

  7. Valerie Johnson Posted on May 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    I am soooo grateful for my friend who just told me about you……..I am learning so much, and started
    Glow 15

  8. zee k Posted on May 14, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I eat once a day and it feels amazing 😀😀😀 thank you for all this information beautiful lady . The doctor is smart and love the guy 😍😍😍 cancer has hit my family three times and I hate the word and it needs to die 😢😢😢

  9. Quran Now Posted on May 14, 2019 at 11:09 am

    🌷🤲Quran 2:184🌴🍃
    "and it is better for you that you fast , if you only knew. "🌴🤲🍃

  10. Bharti Thakkar Posted on May 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    👍 I am very hungry at morning 7 to 8 o’clock. What to do? Have to eat at 10:30🙁

  11. Brandon Posted on May 14, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Not very convincing when the dr looks overweight himself

  12. Radnally Posted on May 14, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Eating all the time is so psychologically programmed into most of us. I found that doing fasting, for me, was 99% changing a habit.

  13. Ed Robinson Posted on May 15, 2019 at 2:54 am

    You would think Dr Dunn was just about to serve you with your groceries. What a humble (and great) man

  14. Alen Posted on May 15, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    I eat one meal a day in the morning. One hour eating window and then dry fast till the next day.

  15. superkb172 Posted on May 15, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Autophagy isn't a bad thing and its always these nut jobs thinking they can out smart NATURE with the brains we were given, nonsense, keep fasting people

  16. Joao Luis Posted on May 16, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing

  17. Akane Cortich Posted on May 17, 2019 at 8:16 am

    Autophagy burning the furniture in the house for energy.?

  18. Craig Sherman Posted on May 19, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Lots of good information, but, with all due respect, the doctor is no poster child for autophagy. He seems in need of some fasting himself..

  19. UrbanExplorer1000 Posted on May 21, 2019 at 12:03 am

    but i thought fasting is good for treating cancer?

  20. Vinicius Alencar Posted on June 4, 2019 at 10:59 am

    This video should get milions of views and likes. Subscribing now. Thanks for your job.

  21. AV V Posted on June 4, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks. It would have been helpful to clarify why/ when Autophagy should be turned off. When does Autophagy aggravate disease….

  22. Bravo V Posted on June 4, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    This is a contradiction to Valter Longo, he says that fasting only protects good cells not cancer cells.

  23. Beatles 4ever Posted on June 5, 2019 at 1:05 am

    the dude is holding up the 3 sixes!!

  24. Dr David, PhD Posted on June 5, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    This guy is really confusing and contrary to other sources. Most talk about activate the autophagy in the case of cancer; he says shut it down. How does that make sense. His explanation isn't clear.

  25. bby nuck Posted on June 5, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    I've been doing IF for 8 months and feel like I discovered a fountain of youth !

  26. Sarah J.K. Posted on June 8, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    I've been trying to figure out the nuances of her accent while watching her videos. Just curious. Does anyone definitively know about where she grew up? Parental influences? It could also be an intentional form that was later learned.
    …Again, just curiosity while actually here for the science discussions.

  27. Aleks Honey Posted on June 13, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Muslims and Orthodox Christians have fasting incorporated in their Faith .

  28. Kenny Brooks Posted on June 20, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    What are the stipulations to get and be in autophagy? How long does it take to get into autophagy?

  29. Sandi GF Posted on June 24, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Most EXCELLENT video! Thank you Dr Dunn! Thank you Naomi Whittel! 👏👏👏🤗

  30. LandE 520 Posted on June 25, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Just found your channel. Love the videos. I appreciate your efforts and research on Autophagy. Thank you !!

  31. Johnny Posted on June 27, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Why there is nobody talk about how to survived on prolong fasting. When your body getting lack of vitamins. You are in risk of lowering electrolytes, even if you use right water.
    What we should do.!?

  32. sweetmsroslyn Posted on June 29, 2019 at 4:48 am

    The first question is; what is it?

  33. martin sinclair Posted on June 30, 2019 at 2:39 am

    My understanding is autophagy doesn't begin until 48 hours into fast

  34. Scott Gable Posted on July 1, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you Naomi for this very enlightening interview with Dr Dunn. Autophagy fascinates me. Well done.

  35. Danny Daniels Posted on July 4, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    This contradicts every other source on the subject.

  36. Christopher Ellis Posted on July 7, 2019 at 9:13 am

    Packing up the camp, ready to move on to the next place. 🖤 🇲🇪 IF is the way to go. Hungry? Ignore it, it likes to whine. Self-control 💱 Self-respect. 💚

  37. Linda Lentz Posted on July 12, 2019 at 1:55 am

    Turn on autophagy for aging.
    Shut down autophagy before blood supply gets to tumor.
    Autophagy helps the heart, liver any organs or any cells not dividing, kidney most active and helped. Needs to be studied

  38. Robin Luich Posted on July 12, 2019 at 4:35 am

    I just did a 4 day fast and now on keto.
    Ive done keto on and off for 20 years.

  39. Mike Newland Posted on July 21, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    For decades I've read about detoxing with conventionals saying it's fantasy. The body does that anyway all the time. Yet no doubt about the curative value of fasting etc. Looks like the answer lies in autophagy increasing massively with fasting etc. Must happen in normal circumstances too surely and to some degree.

  40. Mer Mer Posted on July 22, 2019 at 9:13 am

    I was thin in my youth because I employed IF and knew nothing about the benefits, that's just the way I ate.

  41. Mrs. Johnny Rico Posted on July 24, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    Years ago I did a 5 day water fast without doing low carb first. It was so incredibly painful and I couldn't focus on anything because of extreme hunger. My entire body ached especially my lower back which I had injured a few years before. I'm trying intermittent fasting now to make it less painful and becasue I take supplements every day. Would going low carb help with the pain?

  42. TheNYgolfer Posted on July 25, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Just watched a video on autophagy by Dr. Fung. He says it takes 24 to 48 hours of fasting for autophagy to kick in and that as soon as you consume protein, autophagy is turned off.
    If this is true then the only way to get any benefits from autophagy is to water fast for several days just to activate autophagy and then eat no protein in order to keep from turning autophagy off.

    My question, how many days of autophagy do you need to see benefits if you are doing it for general health purposes ?
    How often should you do it for those purposes?

  43. Kathy Dryland Posted on July 26, 2019 at 1:01 am

    I think Dr is saying Autophogy protects our cells And disposes of any dead or damaged ones
    So if you are healthy utilise autophogy
    However it seems Cancer cells can turn on and use autophogy to protect them so they can go crazy growing more cancer cells So if you already have cancer. Turn OFF Autophogy

  44. wlazyb Posted on July 31, 2019 at 3:05 pm

    Fast food = convenience = Perpetual grazing.
    Gluttony is a North American DIS-EASE.
    The "Refrigerator" is ALWAYS CENTRALLY positioned in our homes and along driving routes, and would/should probably be better located outside beyond the garden or at the distant end of a long busy street on top of a hill.
    I wonder how much the advent of "pockets" has contributed to chain smoking. It's ironical the world of "Convenience" is also the world of disease. 
    A cluttered life looks and behaves very similar to a cluttered cell.

  45. Amy R Posted on August 7, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    Dr. Jason Fung of Toronto, CA has been doing studies on fasting and autophagy since 2010.

  46. Mandri Navaratne Posted on August 11, 2019 at 6:15 am

    For me when i fast i get gastritis,does autophagy depends on age?

  47. Michael Rivers Posted on August 13, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    #snake diet

  48. Robin Aberg Posted on August 15, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    You just wasted my time. When does autophagy kick in?

  49. Sachin Ki Posted on August 16, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Where can I buy 100% pure Organic WILL POWER?

  50. Good Reason Posted on August 17, 2019 at 12:15 am

    He just can not say it right. Why would I want to turn-off Autophagy so that I let chemo kill cancer?? He wants to keep chemo as a constent factor in fighting cancer??? Is that why he says it wrong?? Why not keep autophagy Turned-on and turn off chemo to let Autopahy kill cancer, meanwhile applying intermittent fasting. Which is the right way to fight cancer

  51. Dorothy B Posted on August 19, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    thanks very informative. I knew there was and on/off benefit with cancer, but was curious of the mechanism of when to be "on" or "off"; and the benefit of each, you helped to answer, thanks Dr Dunn and Naomi. Subscribed, first video interview I have viewed of yours.

  52. torptjejen Posted on August 21, 2019 at 9:41 pm

    Can one know if medication during a fast turns off autophagy?

  53. wordpressobsessed Posted on August 30, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Autophagy is great, but fasting to induce autophagy will never be taught in the mainstream. Way too much money in food and cancer treatment.

  54. Valeria Broadnax Posted on September 2, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Day 2 of fasting! Praise God for the power of fasting!

  55. Lisa Lawson Posted on September 5, 2019 at 5:21 am

    I'm a the same today as yesterday and will not fundamentally change , shall be the same in the morrow . The Love of GOD Lifted this country out of harms way 1968 after the falling away from the faith in the 60s . . . I'm not sure y Hitler wasn't and hasn't been recognised as the anti-christ he was . . . The devil's last hurrah is over as in the loosed a little while in the HOLY BIBLE and must be put back to the chains he , they are anticipating . This mind control attempt I'm surviving since eye invited " thy neighbor as they self "to the kingdom of God 1-2-1997 2:30 pm from within myself ,which would be too difficult to explain. Doing this loosed the local demons . They must be arrested as like the cgovernment gone wack on being the unforgiven anti the people that we are acting as if we are powerless to change it . Well you were . Now clean up your demonic higher self's mess. Death has to be arrested so Christ can show . Send the slaves home

  56. Grace Yin Posted on September 11, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    It’s so confusing that he said “turning off autophagy for cancer. There are so many info on YouTube or google saying fasting especially long fasting is good for cancer patients even can cure cancer.

  57. USMC Patriot Posted on September 13, 2019 at 3:39 am

    I think the gateway to Enjoy fasting is by eating a Ketogenic life style. Hunger is suppressed and you stay satiated so 1 meal a day is really easy to achieve and when you want to fast for longer periods your body is more adjusted to it. Great topic!

  58. wojo Posted on September 14, 2019 at 5:10 am

    He went to Penn State I went to the State Pen. Nice info & helpful.

  59. Steven Rodriguez Posted on September 15, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    So when are you or some team of scientists going to make a pill that tricks the body into thinking we are fasting/starving so the cells kick into autophagy?

  60. Chuckz 23 Posted on September 23, 2019 at 9:52 am

    So what he’s saying is autophagy helps protect cancer cells and tumours. So all these nutritionists telling us it’s good are giving us misinformation because if we have got cancer cells in the body or a small rumour starting and we switch on autophagy we are helping it grow and protecting it????

  61. charlie charlie Posted on October 5, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Wrong, should not be turning off autophagy. The body is more intelligent than us. Stop eating rubbish and fasr, we are not designed to eat and drink everyday.

  62. Dave McDaverson Posted on October 5, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Thank DOG for 2x playback. The woman speaks SO slowly!

  63. A Word For You! Debbie Posted on October 6, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    I’ve fasted most days of my life at least until 4:00 pm for years, as a religious practice. I feel much better when I eat once a day and later in the day. I do this most days, but certain days when I want to eat with my family, I eat however I want. I am 60 and I feel great.