Autophagy is a catabolic process by which eukaryotic cells eliminate cytosolic materials through vacuole-mediated sequestration and subsequent delivery to lysosomes for degradation, thus maintaining cellular homeostasis and the integrity of organelles. Autophagy has emerged as playing a critical role in the regulation of liver physiology and the balancing of liver metabolism. Conversely, numerous recent studies have indicated that autophagy may disease-dependently participate in the pathogenesis of liver diseases, such as liver hepatitis, steatosis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the functions of autophagy in hepatic metabolism and the contribution of autophagy to the pathophysiology of liver-related diseases. Moreover, the impacts of autophagy modulation on the amelioration of the development and progression of liver diseases are also discussed.
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