Autophagy at the Crossroads of Metabolism and Cellular Defense

Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2013 Nov;29(6):588-96. doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e328365d34d.


Purpose of review: From its initial description as a homeostatic process required for starvation response, autophagy has emerged as a ubiquitous cellular process involved in a broad range of cellular activities from metabolic adaptation to cellular defense against invading pathogens. This review provides an overview of autophagy and highlights the recent developments in deciphering its role in metabolic adaptation and its importance in antibacterial defense with attention to regulatory pathways.

Recent findings: Within the last 2 years, there has been significant progress in deciphering the mechanisms by which autophagy is regulated, including subcellular localization, posttranslational modifications, and transcriptional control. In addition, the cell type-specific role of autophagy in maintaining cellular homeostasis has been defined, including its role in handling intracellular pathogens and its contribution to inflammatory bowel disease.

Summary: Autophagy is a critical pathway that integrates numerous regulatory inputs to maintain cellular homeostasis and defend against intracellular pathogens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways / immunology*
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / immunology
  • Transcription Factors / immunology


  • Transcription Factors
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases