Autophagy is a well-known intracellular degradation process involved in clearing damaged or unnecessary components in cells. Functional autophagy is important for cardiac homeostasis. Given this, it is not surprising that dysregulation of autophagy has been implicated in the aging process and in various cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, understanding the functional role of autophagy in the heart under various conditions and whether manipulation of the pathway has therapeutic benefits have been a major focus of many investigations in recent years. Although consensus exists that autophagy is a critical cellular quality control pathway in the heart, its role in disease remains controversial. Whether altered autophagy is protective or detrimental in the heart seems to depend on the context and the disease. Here, we review the latest insights into autophagy in cardiovascular homeostasis and disease and its role in disease development.
Keywords: Autophagy; aging; diabetes; heart disease.