Autophagy: in sickness and in health

Trends Cell Biol. 2004 Feb;14(2):70-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2003.12.002.


The degradation of intracellular components in lysosomes (autophagy) has recaptured the attention of cell biologists in recent years. The main reason for this renewed interest is the dissection of the molecular machinery that participates in this process, because the identification of new intracellular elements involved in autophagy has provided new tools to trace, quantify and manipulate autophagy in a growing number of organisms. As a result, a better understanding of the physiological roles of autophagy, the consequences of its malfunctioning and its participation in different pathological processes has emerged. This article reviews our current knowledge of the role of autophagy in disease and the efforts to reconcile its proposed dual function as both a cell protector and a cell killer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Cytosol / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Intracellular Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / metabolism
  • Lysosomal Storage Diseases / physiopathology
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / ultrastructure
  • Membrane Fusion / physiology
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology


  • Molecular Chaperones