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Cells 2019, 8(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8010016

Relevance of Autophagy in Parenchymal and Non-Parenchymal Liver Cells for Health and Disease

1
Institute of Molecular Pathobiochemistry, Experimental Gene Therapy and Clinical Chemistry, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, D-52074 Aachen, Germany
2
Department of Medicine III, University Hospital RWTH Aachen, D-52074 Aachen, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 December 2018 / Revised: 21 December 2018 / Accepted: 26 December 2018 / Published: 1 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Tissue Injury and Homeostasis)
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Abstract

Autophagy is a highly conserved intracellular process for the ordered degradation and recycling of cellular components in lysosomes. In the liver, parenchymal cells (i.e., mainly hepatocytes) utilize autophagy to provide amino acids, glucose, and free fatty acids as sources of energy and biosynthesis functions, but also for recycling and controlling organelles such as mitochondria. Non-parenchymal cells of the liver, including endothelial cells, macrophages (Kupffer cells), and hepatic stellate cells (HSC), also employ autophagy, either for maintaining cellular homeostasis (macrophages, endothelium) or for providing energy for their activation (stellate cells). In hepatocytes, autophagy contributes to essential homeostatic functions (e.g., gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis, fatty acid oxidation), but is also implicated in diseases. For instance, storage disorders (alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson’s disease), metabolic (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH), and toxic (alcohol) liver diseases may benefit from augmenting autophagy in hepatocytes. In hepatic fibrosis, autophagy has been implicated in the fibrogenic activation of HSC to collagen-producing myofibroblasts. In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), autophagy may contribute to tumor surveillance as well as invasiveness, indicating a dual and stage-dependent function in cancer. As many drugs directly or indirectly modulate autophagy, it is intriguing to investigate autophagy-targeting, possibly even cell type-directed strategies for the treatment of hereditary liver diseases, NASH, fibrosis, and HCC. View Full-Text
Keywords: hepatocytes; hepatic stellate cells; sinusoidal endothelial cells; macrophages; fibrosis; cirrhosis; hepatocellular carcinoma; biomarkers hepatocytes; hepatic stellate cells; sinusoidal endothelial cells; macrophages; fibrosis; cirrhosis; hepatocellular carcinoma; biomarkers
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Weiskirchen, R.; Tacke, F. Relevance of Autophagy in Parenchymal and Non-Parenchymal Liver Cells for Health and Disease. Cells 2019, 8, 16.

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