A dual role for Ca(2+) in autophagy regulation

Cell Calcium. 2011 Sep;50(3):242-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2011.04.001. Epub 2011 May 14.


Autophagy is a cellular process responsible for delivery of proteins or organelles to lysosomes. It participates not only in maintaining cellular homeostasis, but also in promoting survival during cellular stress situations. It is now well established that intracellular Ca(2+) is one of the regulators of autophagy. However, this control of autophagy by intracellular Ca(2+) signaling is the subject of two opposite views. On the one hand, the available evidence indicates that intracellular Ca(2+) signals, and mainly inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP(3)Rs), suppress autophagy. On the other hand, elevated cytosolic Ca(2+) concentrations ([Ca(2+)](cyt)) were also shown to promote the autophagic process. Here, we will provide a critical overview of the literature and discuss both hypotheses. Moreover, we will suggest a model explaining how changes in intracellular Ca(2+) signaling can lead to opposite outcomes, depending on the cellular state.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / metabolism


  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Calcium