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Autophagy is a complex process by which dysfunctional cellular components are degraded inside the cell through the action of lysosomes. Here, we review the key stages and processes involved in this pathway, as well as the role of autophagy in different diseases.
Reviewed 15 December 2020
Components of the cytoplasm are broken down into basic components and returned to the cytosol for reuse. Autophagy is a dynamic process present in all cells at low levels under basal conditions, but stimuli such as nutrient starvation or hypoxia can lead to its upregulation.
Autophagy is a tightly regulated pathway with an important housekeeping role, allowing cells to eliminate damaged or harmful components through catabolism and recycle them to maintain nutrient and energy homeostasis. Autophagy is also a major protective mechanism, which allows cell survival in response to multiple stress conditions, such as nutrient or growth factor deprivation, hypoxia, reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA damage, or intracellular pathogens.
Figure 2. Complexes that are involved in the autophagy process.