Autosis and autophagic cell death: the dark side of autophagy

Cell Death Differ. 2015 Mar;22(3):367-76. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2014.143. Epub 2014 Sep 26.


It is controversial whether cells truly die via autophagy or whether - in dying cells - autophagy is merely an innocent bystander or a well-intentioned 'Good Samaritan' trying to prevent inevitable cellular demise. However, there is increasing evidence that the genetic machinery of autophagy may be essential for cell death in certain settings. We recently identified a novel form of autophagy gene-dependent cell death, termed autosis, which is mediated by the Na(+),K(+)-ATPase pump and has unique morphological features. High levels of cellular autophagy, as occurs with treatment with autophagy-inducing peptides, starvation, or in vivo during certain types of ischemia, can trigger autosis. These findings provide insights into the mechanisms and strategies for prevention of cell death during extreme stress conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Cell Death / physiology*
  • Humans