Autophagy is a self-degradation process essential to maintain intracellular homeostasis and cell survival, controlling elimination of pathogens, damage to organelles, and nutrient recycling to generate energy. Alterations in autophagic flux have been reported in the mechanisms of several diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes mellitus, and its associated complications. Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a microvascular complication of diabetes, affecting nearly 30% of diabetic patients. Several pathways are triggered and repressed in the development of DR, and autophagy showed to be relevant in the pathogenesis of this devastating complication. In this chapter, autophagy’s involvement in the development and progression of DR will be discussed, mainly in retinal pigmented epithelial cells and retinal microvascular endothelial cells, as well as in Müller cells—the more prominent retinal glial cell.
Part of the book: The Eye and Foot in Diabetes