Friend or Foe? Implication of the autophagy-lysosome pathway in SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19

Int J Biol Sci. 2022 Jul 11;18(12):4690-4703. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.72544. eCollection 2022.


There is increasing amount of evidence indicating the close interplays between the replication cycle of SARS-CoV-2 and the autophagy-lysosome pathway in the host cells. While autophagy machinery is known to either assist or inhibit the viral replication process, the reciprocal effects of the SARS-CoV-2 on the autophagy-lysosome pathway have also been increasingly appreciated. More importantly, despite the disappointing results from the clinical trials of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in treatment of COVID-19, there is still ongoing effort in discovering new therapeutics targeting the autophagy-lysosome pathway. In this review, we provide an update-to-date summary of the interplays between the autophagy-lysosome pathway in the host cells and the pathogen SARS-CoV-2 at the molecular level, to highlight the prognostic value of autophagy markers in COVID-19 patients and to discuss the potential of developing novel therapeutic strategies for COVID-19 by targeting the autophagy-lysosome pathway. Thus, understanding the nature of such interactions between SARS-CoV-2 and the autophagy-lysosome pathway in the host cells is expected to provide novel strategies in battling against this global pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; autophagy; clinical trials; lysosome; therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autophagy
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Lysosomes
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antiviral Agents