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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2010 Mar;88(3):285-95. doi: 10.1139/Y10-010.

Methods for detecting autophagy and determining autophagy-induced cell death.

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Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology, University of Manitoba, 675 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9, Canada.


Autophagy is an intracellular lysosomal degradation process, which in the case of macroautophagy, is characterized by the formation of double-membraned autophagosomes. Enhanced under stress conditions, autophagy can function to promote cell survival or cell death depending on the type of cellular stress. Interest in autophagy has increased substantially in the past several years as new research implicates this "self-eating" pathway in cell growth, development, and many human diseases. Various methods have been developed for detecting autophagy; however, the implementation of these methods and the interpretation of the results often vary between studies, and a more standardized approach is required. In this review, we summarize the current methods available for detecting autophagy and for determining its contribution to cell death. Furthermore, we discuss the critical points for the successful application of these methods based on experiences from our laboratory and from other research groups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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