Eaten alive: a history of macroautophagy

Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Sep;12(9):814-22. doi: 10.1038/ncb0910-814.


Macroautophagy (hereafter autophagy), or 'self-eating', is a conserved cellular pathway that controls protein and organelle degradation, and has essential roles in survival, development and homeostasis. Autophagy is also integral to human health and is involved in physiology, development, lifespan and a wide range of diseases, including cancer, neurodegeneration and microbial infection. Although research on this topic began in the late 1950s, substantial progress in the molecular study of autophagy has taken place during only the past 15 years. This review traces the key findings that led to our current molecular understanding of this complex process.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Cell Biology / history*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological