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Autophagy. 2008 May;4(4):409-15. Epub 2008 Jan 24.

Molecular mechanisms and physiological significance of autophagy during myocardial ischemia and reperfusion.

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Cardiovascular Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.


Autophagy is an intracellular bulk degradation process whereby cytoplasmic proteins and organelles are degraded and recycled through lysosomes. In the heart, autophagy plays a homeostatic role at basal levels, and the absence of autophagy causes cardiac dysfunction and the development of cardiomyopathy. Autophagy is induced during myocardial ischemia and further enhanced by reperfusion. Although induction of autophagy during the ischemic phase is protective, further enhancement of autophagy during the reperfusion phase may induce cell death and appears to be detrimental. In this review we discuss the functional significance of autophagy and the underlying signaling mechanism in the heart during ischemia/reperfusion.

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