Autophagy pathway has been one of the hot topics during the last decade. From a general notion about its cellular role, autophagy becomes a more sophisticated phenomenon with significant implications in cellular homeostasis. Consequently, autophagy represents an emerging new factor in human diseases. Despite its general task, the bulk degradation of cellular constituents during starvation settings, autophagy possesses important cross talk and interrelationships with several cellular processes such as apoptosis and senescence, among others. This entire panorama gives us a complex but exciting scenario. Consequently, with the aim of encompassing the whole spectrum, in this chapter, we review three main topics: autophagy as a cellular process; autophagy in cell fate; and autophagy in disease. We discuss the emerging role of selective type of autophagy to avoid apoptosis or necrosis and the novel relationship between autophagy and senescence to understand the real extent that autophagy pathway has over cell fate. Finally, we briefly describe the current trends on autophagy in human pancreatic diseases and its role in cancer cell metabolism.
Part of the book: Cell Death