Exp Mol Med.  2012 Feb;44(2):69-72. 10.3858/emm.2012.44.2.028.

Why is autophagy important in human diseases?

  • 1Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 301-747, Korea. kyulim@cnu.ac.kr
  • 2Cancer Research Institute, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 301-747, Korea.
  • 3Infection Signaling Network Research Center, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 301-747, Korea.


The process of macroautophagy (referred to hereafter as autophagy), is generally characterized by the prominent formation of autophagic vesicles in the cytoplasm. In the past decades, studies of autophagy have been vastly expanded. As an essential process to maintain cellular homeostasis and functions, autophagy is responsible for the lysosome-mediated degradation of damaged proteins and organelles, and thus misregulation of autophagy can result in a variety of pathological conditions in human beings. Although our understanding of regulatory pathways that control autophagy is still limited, an increasing number of studies have shed light on the importance of autophagy in a wide range of physiological processes and human diseases. The goal of the reviews in the current issue is to provide a general overview of current knowledge on autophagy. The machinery and regulation of autophagy were outlined with special attention to its role in diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, infectious diseases and cancer.


autophagy; disease; physiology

MeSH Terms

Communicable Diseases/metabolism
Diabetes Mellitus/metabolism
Models, Biological
Neurodegenerative Diseases/metabolism
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