Targeting autophagy during cancer therapy to improve clinical outcomes

Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jul;131(1):130-41. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2011.03.009. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


Autophagy is a catabolic process that turns over long-lived proteins and organelles and contributes to cell and organism survival in times of stress. Current cancer therapies including chemotherapy and radiation are known to induce autophagy within tumor cells. This is therefore an attractive process to target during cancer therapy as there are safe, clinically available drugs known to both inhibit and stimulate autophagy. However, there are conflicting positive and negative effects of autophagy and no current consensus on how to manipulate autophagy to improve clinical outcomes. Careful and rigorous evaluation of autophagy with a focus on how to translate laboratory findings into relevant clinical therapies remains an important aspect of improving clinical outcomes in patients with malignant disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents