Autophagy is a therapeutic target in anticancer drug resistance

Author(s): Chen S, Rehman SK, Zhang W, Wen A, Yao L, et al.


Autophagy is a type of cellular catabolic degradation response to nutrient starvation or metabolic stress. The main function of autophagy is to maintain intracellular metabolic homeostasis through degradation of unfolded or aggregated proteins and organelles. Although autophagic regulation is a complicated process, solid evidence demonstrates that the PI3K-Akt-mTOR, LKB1-AMPK-mTOR and p53 are the main upstream regulators of the autophagic pathway. Currently, there is a bulk of data indicating the important function of autophagy in cancer. It is noteworthy that autophagy facilitates the cancer cells' resistance to chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The abrogation of autophagy potentiates the re-sensitization of therapeutic resistant cancer cells to the anticancer treatment via autophagy inhibitors, such as 3-MA, CQ and BA, or knockdown of the autophagy related molecules. In this review, we summarize the accumulation of evidence for autophagy's involvement in mediating resistance of cancer cells to anticancer therapy and suggest that autophagy might be a potential therapeutic target in anticancer drug resistance in the future.

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