Autophagic cell death

Methods Enzymol. 2009;453:17-31. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(08)04002-0.


In this chapter we discuss methods to study autophagic cell death. A large body of evidence demonstrates that autophagy is a cell survival mechanism in response to starvation. The role of autophagy in cell death, however, has long been controversial. Recently, molecular approaches have provided direct evidence that autophagy contributes to cell death in certain contexts. We begin this chapter by outlining methods to quantify cell death, for example by assaying for cell viability. Next, we discuss methods to measure processes involved in cell death, such as caspase activation and autophagy. Finally, we discuss methods to genetically or chemically perturb autophagy to test whether autophagy is required for cell death. Together, these approaches provide a guide to investigate the relationship between autophagy and cell death.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • RNA Interference


  • Caspases