Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis: Role of Autophagy and Mitophagy Focusing in Microglia

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 24;22(7):3330. doi: 10.3390/ijms22073330.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a debilitating neurological disorder, and currently, there is no cure for it. Several pathologic alterations have been described in the brain of AD patients, but the ultimate causative mechanisms of AD are still elusive. The classic hallmarks of AD, including amyloid plaques (Aβ) and tau tangles (tau), are the most studied features of AD. Unfortunately, all the efforts targeting these pathologies have failed to show the desired efficacy in AD patients so far. Neuroinflammation and impaired autophagy are two other main known pathologies in AD. It has been reported that these pathologies exist in AD brain long before the emergence of any clinical manifestation of AD. Microglia are the main inflammatory cells in the brain and are considered by many researchers as the next hope for finding a viable therapeutic target in AD. Interestingly, it appears that the autophagy and mitophagy are also changed in these cells in AD. Inside the cells, autophagy and inflammation interact in a bidirectional manner. In the current review, we briefly discussed an overview on autophagy and mitophagy in AD and then provided a comprehensive discussion on the role of these pathways in microglia and their involvement in AD pathogenesis.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s; autophagy; inflammation; microglia; mitochondria; mitophagy; neurodegeneration; neuroinflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitophagy*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Receptors, Fc / metabolism
  • Receptors, Scavenger / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Receptors, Fc
  • Receptors, Scavenger
  • tau Proteins
  • Complement System Proteins