Review ArticleAutophagy An Exposing Therapeutic Target in AtherosclerosisLuo, Yun PhD; Lu, Shan PhD; Zhou, Ping PhD; Ai, Qi-Di PhD; Sun, Gui-Bo PhD; Sun, Xiao-Bo PhDAuthor Information *Zhongguancun Open Laboratory of the Research and Development of Natural Medicine and Health Products; †Key Laboratory of Bioactive Substances and Resources Utilization of Chinese Herbal Medicine, Ministry of Education; ‡Beijing Key Laboratory of Innovative Drug Discovery of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Natural Medicine) and Translational Medicine, Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China; and §Pharmaceutical College, Harbin University of Commerce, Harbin, China. Reprints: Gui-Bo Sun, PhD, Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, No. 151, Malianwa North Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100193, China (e-mail: [email protected]) or Xiao-Bo Sun, PhD, Institute of Medicinal Plant Development, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, No. 151, Malianwa North Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100193, China (e-mail: [email protected]). Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81374011) and the Major Scientific and Technological Special Project for “Significant New Drugs Formulation” (Grant no. 2012ZX09501001-004). The authors report no conflicts of interest. Received August 26, 2015 Accepted October 22, 2015 Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology: March 2016 - Volume 67 - Issue 3 - p 266-274 doi: 10.1097/FJC.0000000000000342 Buy Metrics Abstract Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process whereby the cytoplasmic contents of a cell are sequestered within autophagosomes through a lysosome-dependent pathway. Increasing evidence shows that this process is of great importance in a wide range of diseases, including atherosclerosis (AS). Autophagy can be modulated in advanced AS plaques by cytokines, reactive lipids, lipopolysaccharides, advanced glycation end products, and microRNAs. Autophagy exerts both protective and detrimental functions in vascular disorders. However, despite an increasing interest in autophagy, it remains an underestimated and overlooked phenomenon in AS. Therefore, the precise role of autophagy and its relationship with apoptosis need to be described. This review highlights recent findings on the autophagy activities and signaling pathways in endothelial cells, macrophages, and smooth muscle cells that are accompanied by apoptosis in AS. We conclude with recent studies on autophagy modulation as a new therapeutic approach to treat AS. Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.