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Autophagy – an overview
Autophagy gets its name from the Greek words for self (auto) and to eat (phagein). It is an evolutionarily conserved, lysosomal pathway of engulfment, degradation, and recycling of cellular contents including long-lived proteins and organelles. Autophagy promotes cell survival, maintaining cellular homeostasis under resting and stress conditions. It is a tightly regulated response which can allow cells to remove unwanted proteins and organelles.
Autophagy in the heart
Autophagy also plays a critical role in a number of clinical disorders, including heart disease. Studies have shown that both autophagy and mitophagy are important for the preservation of cardiovascular homeostasis. After experiencing a myocardial infarction, cardiomyocytes in the heart will undergo remodeling and dysfunction through the activation of autophagy. This can lead to heart failure and so preventing this activation of autophagy is a key area of research in the prevention of heart disease.