Autophagy and Cancer Chemotherapy: Inhibition or Enhancement?

Janice M Santiago-O’Farrill, Zhen Lu and Robert C Bast Jr

Cells that encounter diverse stressful conditions such as hypoxia and starvation undergo an evolutionarily conserved process called autophagy. Autophagy is a cellular degradative mechanism whereby long-lived proteins and damaged organelles are sequestered within intracytoplasmic double walled autophagosomes that fuse with lysosomes where proteins and lipids are hydrolyzed into amino and fatty acids that can provide energy in nutrient poor conditions. The importance of this cellular process has been established in different physiological and pathological conditions such as aging, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.