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Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2017 May-Jun;83(3):290-297. doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.196320.

Autophagy: A brief overview in perspective of dermatology.

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Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprosy, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College and Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital, Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India.


Autophagy, literally meaning "self-eating," is an intracellular catabolic process of delivering cytosol and/or its specific content to the lysosomes for degradation.The resulting macromolecular constituents are recycled and utilized again by the cells. Basal level autophagy plays an important role in cellular homeostasis through the elimination of the old or damaged organelles, as well as aggregated intracellular proteins. Autophagy refers to sequestration of intact organelles along with a portion of cytosol, into a double-or multi-membrane structure known as phagophore, which elongates, and after closure, forms a vesicular structure known as the autophagosome. Subsequently, the mature autophagosome fuses with a lysosome, thereby forming a single membrane structure, an autolysosome. Autophagy plays a critical role in inflammation, autoimmunity and cellular differentiation. Skin serves as the first line of defense against a variety of environmental insults and autophagy is thought to be a form of an endogenous defense mechanism against such environmental derangements. Autophagy has been linked with keratinocyte differentiation and melanocyte survival, as well as with the pathogenesis of diverse skin disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, psoriasis, vitiligo, infectious skin diseases and cancer. Autophagy has been one of the most studied phenomena in cell biology and pathophysiology, and given its broad clinical implications, has become a major target for drug discovery. The last decade has seen a substantial upsurge in autophagy-related research and publications; still, the dermatology literature appears to be less initiated. Autophagy will probably change our understanding of dermatological disorders/medicines. Hence, a basic knowledge of autophagy is a prerequisite to understand the developments in the field of autophagy-related research.

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