Autophagy: dual roles in life and death?

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Jun;6(6):505-10. doi: 10.1038/nrm1666.


Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved mechanism for the degradation of cellular components in the cytoplasm, and serves as a cell survival mechanism in starving cells. Recent studies indicate that autophagy also functions in cell death, but the precise role of this catabolic process in dying cells is not clear. Here I discuss the possible roles for autophagy in dying cells and how understanding the relationship between autophagy, cell survival and cell death is important for health and development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Death*
  • Cell Survival*
  • Humans


  • Caspases