Purpose of review: Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular programme for the turnover of organelles, proteins, and other macromolecules, involving the lysosomal degradation pathway. Emerging evidence suggests that autophagy can play a central role in human metabolism as well as impact diverse cellular processes including organelle homeostasis, cell death and proliferation, lipid and glycogen metabolism, and the regulation of inflammation and immune responses. The purpose of this review is to examine recent evidence for the role of autophagy in cellular metabolism, and its relevance to select human diseases that involve disorders of metabolism.
Recent findings: Recent studies suggest that autophagy may play multiple roles in metabolic diseases, including diabetes and its complications, metabolic syndrome and obesity, myopathies and other inborn errors of metabolism, as well as other diseases that may involve altered mitochondrial function.
Summary: Strategies aimed at modulating autophagy may lead to therapies for diseases in which altered cellular and tissue metabolism play a key role.