The cellular degradative pathway of autophagy has a fundamental role in immunity. Here, we review the function of autophagy and autophagy proteins in inflammation. We discuss how the autophagy machinery controls the burden of infectious agents while simultaneously limiting inflammatory pathologies, which often involves processes that are distinct from conventional autophagy. Among the newly emerging processes we describe are LC3-associated phagocytosis and targeting by autophagy proteins, both of which require many of the same proteins that mediate conventional autophagy. We also discuss how autophagy contributes to differentiation of myeloid and lymphoid cell types, coordinates multicellular immunity, and facilitates memory responses. Together, these functions establish an intimate link between autophagy, mucosal immunity, and chronic inflammatory diseases. Finally, we offer our perspective on current challenges and barriers to translation.
Keywords: autoimmune disease; autophagy; infectious disease; inflammation; inflammatory bowel disease.