Autophagy in breast cancer and its implications for therapy

Kirti Jain, Krishna S. Paranandi, Savitha Sridharan, Alakananda Basu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved process of cellular self-digestion that serves as a mechanism to clear damaged organelles and recycle nutrients. Since autophagy canpromote cell survival as well as cell death, it has been linked to different human pathologies, including cancer. Although mono-allelic deletion of autophagyrelated gene BECN1 inbreast tumors originally indicated a tumor suppressive role for autophagy in breast cancer, the intense research during the last decade suggests a role for autophagy in tumor progression. It is now recognized that tumor cells often utilize autophagy to survive various stresses, such as oncogene-induced transformation, hypoxia, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and extracellular matrix detachment. Induction of autophagy by tumor cells may also contribute to tumor dormancy and resistance to anticancer therapies, thus making autophagy inhibitors promising drug candidates for breast cancer treatment. The scientific endeavors continue to define a precise role for autophagy in breast cancer. In this article, we review the current literature on the role of autophagy during the development and progression of breast cancer, and discuss the potential of autophagy modulators for breast cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer therapy
  • ER stress
  • Hypoxia
  • Metabolism
  • Metastasis
  • Transformation
  • Tumor microenvironment


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