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Autophagy. 2009 Oct;5(7):925-9. Epub 2009 Oct 5.

Autophagy in food biotechnology.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel.


The purpose of this review is not to explain autophagy (as clearly there is a plethora of reviews and research papers on the topic) but to provide the autophagy-savvy reader with an overview of the impact of autophagy research on a number of current topics in food biotechnology. To understand this connection, we need to remember that autophagy is, at the end of the day, a type of stress response. Since as humans we are heterotrophic eukaryotic organisms, our cells, and the cells of those organisms that we consume, use autophagy as part of the day-to-day business of living. Thus, a number of food biotechnology processes such as brewing and winemaking employ eukaryotic organisms under autophagy-inducing conditions, as noted below. In addition, food spoilage processes also involve eukaryotic organisms and these processes also involve physiological aspects that impinge on autophagy. Finally, the recently introduced concept of "functional foods" introduces the possibility of engineering foodstuff for the induction or inhibition of autophagy in the consumer, with a potential promise of health benefits that merits further research. In this review, we will provide a perspective on the current literature in these three areas, their relationship to current basic research in autophagy, and their future applicative potential.

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