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Special Issue "Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Biochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Patrizia Ballerini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Neuroscience, Imaging and Clinical Sciences and Center for Research on Aging and Translational Medicine (CeSI-MeT), “G. d’Annunzio” University of Chieti, 66100 Chieti, Italy
Interests: oxidative/nitrosative stress; neurodegenerative diseases
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Antonia Patruno
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Dr. Mirko Pesce
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Medicine and Ageing Sciences University G. d’Annunzio, Chieti-Pescara, Via dei Vestini, 31, 66100 Chieti, Italy
Interests: inflammaging; oxidative stress; biological bases of emotional state; cognitive performance
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Autophagy is an intracellular catabolic process, evolutionarily conserved. It has an essential role in cellular homeostasis by facilitating lysosomal degradation and recycling of harmful and damaged cytoplasmic components. Autophagy was first discovered as a survival mechanism in yeasts subjected to nutrient deprivation, and since then, studies in several different organisms have established its critical roles in a variety of biological processes ranging from development to aging. Interestingly, autophagy is often found perturbed in age-related disorders such as cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and sarcopenia. Accordingly, autophagy is important for the maintenance of organismal health, which prominently declines with aging.

This Special Issue, “Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease”, of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences will include a selection of original articles and reviews aimed at expanding our understanding of this multifaceted process and providing support for further investigations on the role of autophagy in cellular homeostasis, aging, and disease. In particular, it will contribute to better explaining the complex machinery of autophagy and lead to further investigations on physiological and pathological fields in which the study of this process is still in its infancy. Moreover, studies on the role of autophagy in age-related processes to open new avenues for the development of novel potential anti-aging therapeutic approaches are also welcome.

Prof. Patrizia Ballerini
Prof. Antonia Patruno
Dr. Mirko Pesce
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Autophagy
  • Aging
  • Aging diseases
  • Cell survival
  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Signaling pathway
  • Target identification

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
Role of Autophagy in Von Willebrand Factor Secretion by Endothelial Cells and in the In Vivo Thrombin-Antithrombin Complex Formation Promoted by the HIV-1 Matrix Protein p17
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(6), 2022; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21062022 - 16 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 966
Abstract
Although the advent of combined antiretroviral therapy has substantially improved the survival of HIV-1-infected individuals, non-AIDS-related diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent in HIV-1-infected patients. Persistent abnormalities in coagulation appear to contribute to excess risk for a broad spectrum of non-AIDS defining complications. Alterations [...] Read more.
Although the advent of combined antiretroviral therapy has substantially improved the survival of HIV-1-infected individuals, non-AIDS-related diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent in HIV-1-infected patients. Persistent abnormalities in coagulation appear to contribute to excess risk for a broad spectrum of non-AIDS defining complications. Alterations in coagulation biology in the context of HIV infection seem to be largely a consequence of a chronically inflammatory microenvironment leading to endothelial cell (EC) dysfunction. A possible direct role of HIV-1 proteins in sustaining EC dysfunction has been postulated but not yet investigated. The HIV-1 matrix protein p17 (p17) is secreted from HIV-1-infected cells and is known to sustain inflammatory processes by activating ECs. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility that p17-driven stimulation of human ECs is associated with increased production of critical coagulation factors. Here we show the involvement of autophagy in the p17-induced accumulation and secretion of von Willebrand factor (vWF) by ECs. In vivo experiments confirmed the capability of p17 to exert a potent pro-coagulant activity soon after its intravenous administration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Article
The Autophagy Regulatory Molecule CSRP3 Interacts with LC3 and Protects Against Muscular Dystrophy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(3), 749; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21030749 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1205
Abstract
CSRP3/MLP (cysteine-rich protein 3/muscle Lim protein), a member of the cysteine-rich protein family, is a muscle-specific LIM-only factor specifically expressed in skeletal muscle. CSRP3 is critical in maintaining the structure and function of normal muscle. To investigate the mechanism of disease in CSRP3 [...] Read more.
CSRP3/MLP (cysteine-rich protein 3/muscle Lim protein), a member of the cysteine-rich protein family, is a muscle-specific LIM-only factor specifically expressed in skeletal muscle. CSRP3 is critical in maintaining the structure and function of normal muscle. To investigate the mechanism of disease in CSRP3 myopathy, we performed siRNA-mediated CSRP3 knockdown in chicken primary myoblasts. CSRP3 silencing resulted in the down-regulation of the expression of myogenic genes and the up-regulation of atrophy-related gene expressions. We found that CSRP3 interacted with LC3 protein to promote the formation of autophagosomes during autophagy. CSRP3-silencing impaired myoblast autophagy, as evidenced by inhibited autophagy-related ATG5 and ATG7 mRNA expression levels, and inhibited LC3II and Beclin-1 protein accumulation. In addition, impaired autophagy in CSRP3-silenced cells resulted in increased sensitivity to apoptosis cell death. CSRP3-silenced cells also showed increased caspase-3 and caspase-9 cleavage. Moreover, apoptosis induced by CSRP3 silencing was alleviated after autophagy activation. Together, these results indicate that CSRP3 promotes the correct formation of autophagosomes through its interaction with LC3 protein, which has an important role in skeletal muscle remodeling and maintenance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Article
SIRT3 Acts as a Positive Autophagy Regulator to Promote Lipid Mobilization in Adipocytes via Activating AMPK
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(2), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21020372 - 07 Jan 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1846
Abstract
Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, which is characterized by the excessive accumulation of triglycerides in adipocytes. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that macroautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) regulate lipid mobilization and play a key role in energy balance. Sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) [...] Read more.
Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, which is characterized by the excessive accumulation of triglycerides in adipocytes. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that macroautophagy and chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) regulate lipid mobilization and play a key role in energy balance. Sirtuin 3 (SIRT3) is an NAD+-dependent deacetylase, which is important in regulating macroautophagy and lipid metabolism. It is still unknown whether SIRT3 modulates macroautophagy and CMA in adipocytes. The current study found that macroautophagy was dynamically regulated during 3T3-L1 adipocyte differentiation, which coincided with SIRT3 expression. In mature adipocytes, overexpression of SIRT3 activated macroautophagy, mainly on lipid droplets (LDs), through activating the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-unc-51-like kinase 1 (ULK1) pathway, which in turn resulting in smaller LD size and reduced lipid accumulation. Moreover, SIRT3 overexpression induced the formation of perilipin-1 (PLN1)-heat shock cognate 71 kDa protein (HSC70)-lysosome-associated membrane protein 2 (LAMP2) complex, to activate CMA and cause the instability of LDs in adipocytes. In summary, we found SIRT3 is a positive regulator of macroautophagy and CMA in adipocytes, which might be a promising therapeutic target for treatment of obesity and its related metabolic dysfunction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Article
Autophagy is Activated In Vivo during Trimethyltin-Induced Apoptotic Neurodegeneration: A Study in the Rat Hippocampus
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(1), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010175 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1044
Abstract
Trimethyltin (TMT) is an organotin compound known to produce significant and selective neuronal degeneration and reactive astrogliosis in the rodent central nervous system. Autophagy is the main cellular mechanism for degrading and recycling protein aggregates and damaged organelles, which in different stress conditions, [...] Read more.
Trimethyltin (TMT) is an organotin compound known to produce significant and selective neuronal degeneration and reactive astrogliosis in the rodent central nervous system. Autophagy is the main cellular mechanism for degrading and recycling protein aggregates and damaged organelles, which in different stress conditions, such as starvation, generally improves cell survival. Autophagy is documented in several pathologic conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases. This study aimed to investigate the autophagy and apoptosis signaling pathways in hippocampal neurons of TMT-treated (Wistar) rats to explore molecular mechanisms involved in toxicant-induced neuronal injury. The microtubule-associated protein light chain (LC3, autophagosome marker) and sequestosome1 (SQSTM1/p62) (substrate of autophagy-mediated degradation) expressions were examined by Western blotting at different time points after intoxication. The results demonstrate that the LC3 II/I ratio significantly increased at 3 and 5 days, and that p62 levels significantly decreased at 7 and 14 days. Immunofluorescence images of LC3/neuronal nuclear antigen (NeuN) showed numerous strongly positive LC3 neurons throughout the hippocampus at 3 and 5 days. The terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay indicated an increase in apoptotic cells starting from 5 days after treatment. In order to clarify apoptotic pathway, immunofluorescence images of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF)/NeuN did not show nuclear translocation of AIF in neurons. Increased expression of cleaved Caspase-3 was revealed at 5–14 days in all hippocampal regions by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry analyses. These data clearly demonstrate that TMT intoxication induces a marked increase in both autophagy and caspase-dependent apoptosis, and that autophagy occurring just before apoptosis could have a potential role in neuronal loss in this experimental model of neurodegeneration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Article
PFKFB3 Inhibition Attenuates Oxaliplatin-Induced Autophagy and Enhances Its Cytotoxicity in Colon Cancer Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(21), 5415; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20215415 - 30 Oct 2019
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1344
Abstract
6-Phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase isoform 3 (PFKFB3), a glycolytic enzyme highly expressed in cancer cells, has been reported to participate in regulating metabolism, angiogenesis, and autophagy. Although anti-cancer drug oxaliplatin (Oxa) effectively inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis, the growing resistance and side-effects make it urgent [...] Read more.
6-Phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphatase isoform 3 (PFKFB3), a glycolytic enzyme highly expressed in cancer cells, has been reported to participate in regulating metabolism, angiogenesis, and autophagy. Although anti-cancer drug oxaliplatin (Oxa) effectively inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis, the growing resistance and side-effects make it urgent to improve the therapeutic strategy of Oxa. Although Oxa induces the autophagy process, the role of PFKFB3 in this process remains unknown. In addition, whether PFKFB3 affects the cytotoxicity of Oxa has not been investigated. Here, we show that Oxa-inhibited cell proliferation and migration concomitant with the induction of apoptosis and autophagy in SW480 cells. Both inhibition of autophagy by small molecule inhibitors and siRNA modification decreased the cell viability loss and apoptosis induced by Oxa. Utilizing quantitative PCR and immunoblotting, we observed that Oxa increased PFKFB3 expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Meanwhile, suppression of PFKFB3 attenuated both the basal and Oxa-induced autophagy, by monitoring the autophagic flux and phosphorylated-Ulk1, which play essential roles in autophagy initiation. Moreover, PFKFB3 inhibition further inhibited the cell proliferation/migration, and cell viability decreased by Oxa. Collectively, the presented data demonstrated that PFKFB3 inhibition attenuated Oxa-induced autophagy and enhanced its cytotoxicity in colorectal cancer cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Article
Myoferlin Regulates Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling-Mediated Skeletal Muscle Development by Stabilizing Dishevelled-2 Against Autophagy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(20), 5130; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20205130 - 16 Oct 2019
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1122
Abstract
Myoferlin (MyoF), which is a calcium/phospholipid-binding protein expressed in cardiac and muscle tissues, belongs to the ferlin family. While MyoF promotes myoblast differentiation, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we found that MyoF not only promotes C2C12 myoblast differentiation, but also inhibits [...] Read more.
Myoferlin (MyoF), which is a calcium/phospholipid-binding protein expressed in cardiac and muscle tissues, belongs to the ferlin family. While MyoF promotes myoblast differentiation, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we found that MyoF not only promotes C2C12 myoblast differentiation, but also inhibits muscle atrophy and autophagy. In the present study, we found that myoblasts fail to develop into mature myotubes due to defective differentiation in the absence of MyoF. Meanwhile, MyoF regulates the expression of atrophy-related genes (Atrogin-1 and MuRF1) to rescue muscle atrophy. Furthermore, MyoF interacts with Dishevelled-2 (Dvl-2) to activate canonical Wnt signaling. MyoF facilitates Dvl-2 ubiquitination resistance by reducing LC3-labeled Dvl-2 levels and antagonizing the autophagy system. In conclusion, we found that MyoF plays an important role in myoblast differentiation during skeletal muscle atrophy. At the molecular level, MyoF protects Dvl-2 against autophagy-mediated degradation, thus promoting activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway. Together, our findings suggest that MyoF, through stabilizing Dvl-2 and preventing autophagy, regulates Wnt/β-catenin signaling-mediated skeletal muscle development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Review

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Review
Biological Factors, Metals, and Biomaterials Regulating Osteogenesis through Autophagy
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(8), 2789; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21082789 - 17 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1057
Abstract
Bone loss raises great concern in numerous situations, such as ageing and many diseases and in both orthopedic and dentistry fields of application, with an extensive impact on health care. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms and the determinants that can [...] Read more.
Bone loss raises great concern in numerous situations, such as ageing and many diseases and in both orthopedic and dentistry fields of application, with an extensive impact on health care. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms and the determinants that can regulate osteogenesis and ensure bone balance. Autophagy is a well conserved lysosomal degradation pathway, which is known to be highly active during differentiation and development. This review provides a revision of the literature on all the exogen factors that can modulate osteogenesis through autophagy regulation. Metal ion exposition, mechanical stimuli, and biological factors, including hormones, nutrients, and metabolic conditions, were taken into consideration for their ability to tune osteogenic differentiation through autophagy. In addition, an exhaustive overview of biomaterials, both for orthopedic and dentistry applications, enhancing osteogenesis by modulation of the autophagic process is provided as well. Already investigated conditions regulating bone regeneration via autophagy need to be better understood for finely tailoring innovative therapeutic treatments and designing novel biomaterials. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Review
The Contribution of Astrocyte Autophagy to Systemic Metabolism
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(7), 2479; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21072479 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1318
Abstract
Autophagy is an essential mechanism to maintain cellular homeostasis. Besides its role in controlling the quality of cytoplasmic components, it participates in nutrient obtaining and lipid mobilization under stressful conditions. Furthermore, autophagy is involved in the regulation of systemic metabolism as its blockade [...] Read more.
Autophagy is an essential mechanism to maintain cellular homeostasis. Besides its role in controlling the quality of cytoplasmic components, it participates in nutrient obtaining and lipid mobilization under stressful conditions. Furthermore, autophagy is involved in the regulation of systemic metabolism as its blockade in hypothalamic neurons can affect the central regulation of metabolism and impact body energy balance. Moreover, hypothalamic autophagy can be altered during obesity, one of the main alterations of metabolism nowadays. In this review, we focus on the role of astrocytes, essential cells for brain homeostasis, which represent key metabolic regulators. Astrocytes can sense metabolic signals in the hypothalamus and modulate systemic functions as glucose homeostasis and feeding response. Moreover, the response of astrocytes to obesity has been widely studied. Astrocytes are important mediators of brain inflammation and can be affected by increased levels of saturated fatty acids associated with obesity. Although autophagy plays important roles for astrocyte homeostasis and functioning, the contribution of astrocyte autophagy to systemic metabolism has not been analyzed yet. Furthermore, how obesity can impact astrocyte autophagy is poorly understood. More studies are needed in order to understand the contribution of astrocyte autophagy to metabolism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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Review
Mitochondrial Quality Control in Age-Related Pulmonary Fibrosis
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(2), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21020643 - 18 Jan 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2647
Abstract
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is age-related interstitial lung disease of unknown etiology. About 100,000 people in the U.S have IPF, with a 3-year median life expectancy post-diagnosis. The development of an effective treatment for pulmonary fibrosis will require an improved understanding of its [...] Read more.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is age-related interstitial lung disease of unknown etiology. About 100,000 people in the U.S have IPF, with a 3-year median life expectancy post-diagnosis. The development of an effective treatment for pulmonary fibrosis will require an improved understanding of its molecular pathogenesis and the “normal” and “pathological’ hallmarks of the aging lung. An important characteristic of the aging organism is its lowered capacity to adapt quickly to, and counteract, disturbances. While it is likely that DNA damage, chronic endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, and accumulation of heat shock proteins are capable of initiating tissue repair, recent studies point to a pathogenic role for mitochondrial dysfunction in the development of pulmonary fibrosis. These studies suggest that damage to the mitochondria induces fibrotic remodeling through a variety of mechanisms including the activation of apoptotic and inflammatory pathways. Mitochondrial quality control (MQC) has been demonstrated to play an important role in the maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis. Different factors can induce MQC, including mitochondrial DNA damage, proteostasis dysfunction, and mitochondrial protein translational inhibition. MQC constitutes a complex signaling response that affects mitochondrial biogenesis, mitophagy, fusion/fission and the mitochondrial unfolded protein response (UPRmt) that, together, can produce new mitochondria, degrade the components of the oxidative complex or clearance the entire organelle. In pulmonary fibrosis, defects in mitophagy and mitochondrial biogenesis have been implicated in both cellular apoptosis and senescence during tissue repair. MQC has also been found to have a role in the regulation of other protein activity, inflammatory mediators, latent growth factors, and anti-fibrotic growth factors. In this review, we delineated the role of MQC in the pathogenesis of age-related pulmonary fibrosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy in Health, Ageing and Disease)
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