Autophagy in the regulation of pathogen replication and adaptive immunity

Trends Immunol. 2012 Oct;33(10):475-87. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Jul 14.


Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved homeostatic process by which cells deliver cytoplasmic material for degradation into lysosomes. Autophagy may have evolved as a nutrient-providing homeostatic pathway induced upon starvation, but with the acquisition of cargo receptors, autophagy has become an important cellular defence mechanism as well as a generator of antigenic peptides for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) presentation. We propose that autophagy efficiently protects against microbes encountering the cytosolic environment accidentally, for example, upon phagosomal damage, whereas pathogens routinely accessing the host cytosol have evolved to avoid or even benefit from autophagy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Cell Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lymphocytes / cytology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Lymphocytes / microbiology