Modulating autophagy for therapeutic benefit

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Autophagy is an ancient cell survival pathway that allows cells to recoup ATP and essential building blocks for biosynthesis when they are starved of nutrients or when they are exposed to hypoxia, which are hallmarks of the tumor microenvironment. This pathway involves the formation of double-membraned vesicles, coined autophagosomes, which envelop bulk cellular material and/or organelles and that subsequently fuse with lysosomes that degrade their cargo. Autophagy has been suggested to play important roles in chemoresistance of cancer to some therapeutic agents, which typically induce an apoptotic response. For example, the histone deacetylase inhibitor SAHA induces both apoptosis and autophagy, suggesting that agents that disrupt the autophagy pathway might augment its efficacy as a therapeutic agent. We tested this notion in a model of Imatinib-refractory chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and in imatinib-resistant primary CML cells from patients bearing mutations in Bcr-Abl, including the T315I mutation that causes resistance to currently utilized tyrosine kinase inhibitors and translates into a very poor clinical prognosis. Agents that disrupt autophagy were shown to synergize with SAHA in provoking apoptotic death of these refractory tumors. These findings support the use of agents that disrupt the autophagy pathway in settings of chemorefractory malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)464-467
Number of pages4
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Bcr-Abl
  • CML
  • Lysosome
  • SAHA
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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