Autophagic pathways and metabolic stress

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68 Scopus citations


Autophagy is an essential intracellular process that mediates degradation of intracellular proteins and organelles in lysosomes. Autophagy was initially identified for its role as alternative source of energy when nutrients are scarce but, in recent years, a previously unknown role for this degradative pathway in the cellular response to stress has gained considerable attention. In this review, we focus on the novel findings linking autophagic function with metabolic stress resulting either from proteins or lipids. Proper autophagic activity is required in the cellular defense against proteotoxicity arising in the cytosol and also in the endoplasmic reticulum, where a vast amount of proteins are synthesized and folded. In addition, autophagy contributes to mobilization of intracellular lipid stores and may be central to lipid metabolism in certain cellular conditions. In this review, we focus on the interrelation between autophagy and different types of metabolic stress, specifically the stress resulting from the presence of misbehaving proteins within the cytosol or in the endoplasmic reticulum and the stress following a lipogenic challenge. We also comment on the consequences that chronic exposure to these metabolic stressors could have on autophagic function and on how this effect may underlie the basis of some common metabolic disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-14
Number of pages11
JournalDiabetes, Obesity and Metabolism
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Chaperones
  • ER stress
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Lysosomes
  • Protein degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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