Autophagy, an evolutionally conserved process of controlled cellular cannibalization, plays a vital role in cardiac physiology. Perturbations in cardiomyocyte autophagy contribute to the pathogenesis of a wide range of cardiac diseases, many of which culminate in heart failure. With recent advances in cancer chemotherapy and consequent improvements in cancer survival, drug-induced toxicity to the heart has assumed greater importance. As a number of prominent cellular pathways are critical to the survival of both tumor cells and heart cells, it comes as little surprise that therapies targeting those pathways have consequences in both tissues. Little is known presently about cardiomyocyte autophagy, a prominent cellular response to stress, in the setting of chemotherapy, but preliminary evidence suggests an important and context-dependent role. Dissecting the role of autophagy in "onco-cardiology" will likely yield insights into mechanisms underlying cardiomyopathy and may lead to novel means to protect the myocardium from chemotherapy-induced injury. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Protein Quality Control, the Ubiquitin Proteasome System, and Autophagy".
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine