Autophagy and Tumor Cell Clearance

Science Signaling  20 Dec 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 204, pp. ec351
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4204ec351

The process of autophagy, through which cells can digest their own components, has complicated, sometimes contradictory, effects in cancer cells. Whereas loss of autophagy can lead to genomic instability and favor generation of cancer cells, maintained or enhanced autophagy can help cancer cells survive in a stressful environment. Michaud et al. (see the Perspective by Amaravadi) found that in mice, autophagy could also have a strong influence on the response of the immune system to tumor cells dying in response to chemotherapy. Autophagy caused release of adenosine triphosphate from such cells, which helped to recruit immune cells that contributed to cancer cell clearance.

M. Michaud, I. Martins, A. Q. Sukkurwala, S. Adjemian, Y. Ma, P. Pellegatti, S. Shen, O. Kepp, M. Scoazec, G. Mignot, S. Rello-Varona, M. Tailler, L. Menger, E. Vacchelli, L. Galluzzi, F. Ghiringhelli, F. di Virgilio, L. Zitvogel, G. Kroemer, Autophagy-dependent anticancer immune responses induced by chemotherapeutic agents in mice. Science 334, 1573–1577 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

R. K. Amaravadi, Autophagy in tumor immunity. Science 334, 1501–1502 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]