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Autophagy. 2013 Aug;9(8):1131-58. doi: 10.4161/auto.25063. Epub 2013 May 22.

Functions of autophagy in normal and diseased liver.

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Department of Medicine; Marion Bessin Liver Research Center; Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Bronx, NY USA.


Autophagy has emerged as a critical lysosomal pathway that maintains cell function and survival through the degradation of cellular components such as organelles and proteins. Investigations specifically employing the liver or hepatocytes as experimental models have contributed significantly to our current knowledge of autophagic regulation and function. The diverse cellular functions of autophagy, along with unique features of the liver and its principal cell type the hepatocyte, suggest that the liver is highly dependent on autophagy for both normal function and to prevent the development of disease states. However, instances have also been identified in which autophagy promotes pathological changes such as the development of hepatic fibrosis. Considerable evidence has accumulated that alterations in autophagy are an underlying mechanism of a number of common hepatic diseases including toxin-, drug- and ischemia/reperfusion-induced liver injury, fatty liver, viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma. This review summarizes recent advances in understanding the roles that autophagy plays in normal hepatic physiology and pathophysiology with the intent of furthering the development of autophagy-based therapies for human liver diseases.


autophagy; drug toxicity; hepatitis; hepatocellular carcinoma; hepatocyte; hepatotoxin; ischemia/reperfusion; liver; liver injury

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