Autophagy at the crossroads of catabolism and anabolism

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Aug;16(8):461-72. doi: 10.1038/nrm4024. Epub 2015 Jul 15.


Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process that degrades cytoplasmic constituents and organelles in the lysosome. Starvation-induced protein degradation is a salient feature of autophagy but recent progress has illuminated how autophagy, during both starvation and nutrient-replete conditions, can mobilize diverse cellular energy and nutrient stores such as lipids, carbohydrates and iron. Processes such as lipophagy, glycophagy and ferritinophagy enable cells to salvage key metabolites to sustain and facilitate core anabolic functions. Here, we discuss the established and emerging roles of autophagy in fuelling biosynthetic capacity and in promoting metabolic and nutrient homeostasis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis
  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Phagosomes / physiology
  • Protein Transport
  • Proteolysis


  • Iron