Autophagy in major human diseases

EMBO J. 2021 Oct 1;40(19):e108863. doi: 10.15252/embj.2021108863. Epub 2021 Aug 30.


Autophagy is a core molecular pathway for the preservation of cellular and organismal homeostasis. Pharmacological and genetic interventions impairing autophagy responses promote or aggravate disease in a plethora of experimental models. Consistently, mutations in autophagy-related processes cause severe human pathologies. Here, we review and discuss preclinical data linking autophagy dysfunction to the pathogenesis of major human disorders including cancer as well as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, metabolic, pulmonary, renal, infectious, musculoskeletal, and ocular disorders.

Keywords: aging; cancer; inflammation; metabolic syndromes; neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy* / drug effects
  • Autophagy* / genetics
  • Autophagy* / immunology
  • Biomarkers
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Homeostasis
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Organ Specificity
  • Signal Transduction


  • Biomarkers