Autophagy is a crucial metabolic pathway that sustains cellular homeostasis in health and that can also play either a protective or a destructive role in disease. During the last decade, progress made in understanding of the molecular basis of autophagy has uncovered an exciting opportunity to target it for the treatment of several human illnesses. In fact, there is emerging interest in autophagy-modulating and autophagy-targeted therapy with a variety of pharmacologic agents. However, to develop effective autophagy-targeted therapy, it is essential to identify the pharmacologic key targets in the autophagy pathway. In this chapter, we reviewed the cases of success and pitfalls of activating or inhibiting autophagy attempting therapeutic intervention of diseases, including cancer, neurologic disorders, and infectious diseases. In all these histopathologic states, autophagy is considered as the principal cellular mechanisms of defense and immunochemical homeostasis. In the last section of this chapter, we discuss main directions that may be of particular use in the future investigations, including a promissory avenue for autophagy modulation for organelle-targeting therapy through a promotion of parallel damage in lysosomal and mitochondrial membranes.
Part of the book: Autophagy in Current Trends in Cellular Physiology and Pathology