Autophagy is a highly conserved process that degrades cellular long-lived proteins and organelles. Accumulating evidence indicates that autophagy plays a critical role in kidney maintenance, diseases and aging. Ischemic, toxic, immunological, and oxidative insults can cause an induction of autophagy in renal epithelial cells modifying the course of various kidney diseases. This review summarizes recent insights on the role of autophagy in kidney physiology and diseases alluding to possible novel intervention strategies for treating specific kidney disorders by modifying autophagy.
Keywords: acute kidney injury; aging; autophagy; glomerulus; kidney; kidney transplantation; mTOR; podocyte; polycystic kidney disease.