Autophagy and disease

So much has been happening in autophagy lately that a thorough review of the process’s role in aging and age-related disease would be quite timely. Mizushima et al. deliver the goods. (Dan Klionsky, the senior author, is one of the world’s top authorities on autophagy):

Autophagy fights disease through cellular self-digestion

Autophagy, or cellular self-digestion, is a cellular pathway involved in protein and organelle degradation, with an astonishing number of connections to human disease and physiology. For example, autophagic dysfunction is associated with cancer, neurodegeneration, microbial infection and ageing. Paradoxically, although autophagy is primarily a protective process for the cell, it can also play a role in cell death. Understanding autophagy may ultimately allow scientists and clinicians to harness this process for the purpose of improving human health.