Document Type


Publication Date



© 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Autophagy is an essential cellular response which acts to release stored cellular substrates during nutrient restriction, and particularly plays a key role in the cellular response to amino acid restriction. However, there has been limited work testing whether the induction of autophagy is required for adaptive metabolic responses to dietary protein restriction in the whole animal. Here, we found that moderate dietary protein restriction led to a series of metabolic changes in rats, including increases in food intake and energy expenditure, the downregulation of hepatic fatty acid synthesis gene expression and reduced markers of hepatic mitochondrial number. Importantly, these effects were also associated with an induction of hepatic autophagy. To determine if the induction of autophagy contributes to these metabolic effects, we tested the metabolic response to dietary protein restriction in BCL2-AAA mice, which bear a genetic mutation that impairs autophagy induction. Interestingly, BCL2-AAA mice exhibit exaggerated responses in terms of both food intake and energy expenditure, whereas the effects of protein restriction on hepatic metabolism were significantly blunted. These data demonstrate that restriction of dietary protein is sufficient to trigger hepatic autophagy, and that disruption of autophagy significantly alters both hepatic and whole animal metabolic response to dietary protein restriction.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental

First Page


Last Page