Autophagy in toxicology: Self-consumption in times of stress and plenty

Alicia M. Bolt, Walter T. Klimecki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Autophagy is a critical cellular process orchestrating the lysosomal degradation of cellular components in order to maintain cellular homeostasis and respond to cellular stress. A growing research effort over the last decade has proven autophagy to be essential for constitutive protein and organelle turnover, for embryonic/neonatal survival and for cell survival during conditions of environmental stress. Emphasizing its biological importance, dysfunctional autophagy contributes to a diverse set of human diseases. Cellular stress induced by xenobiotic exposure typifies environmental stress, and can result in the induction of autophagy as a cytoprotective mechanism. An increasing number of xenobiotics are notable for their ability to modulate the induction or the rate of autophagy. The role of autophagy in normal cellular homeostasis, the intricate relationship between cellular stress and the induction of autophagy, and the identification of specific xenobiotics capable of modulating autophagy, point to the importance of the autophagic process in toxicology. This review will summarize the importance of autophagy and its role in cellular response to stress, including examples in which consideration of autophagy has contributed to a more complete understanding of toxicant-perturbed systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-479
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Applied Toxicology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Adaptation
  • Autophagy
  • Cellular stress response
  • Survival
  • Xenobiotic resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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