Autophagy and airway fibrosis: Is there a link?
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In the past decade, an emerging process named “autophagy” has generated intense interest in many chronic lung diseases. Tissue remodeling and fibrosis is a common feature of many airway diseases, and current therapies do not prevent or reverse these structural changes. Autophagy has evolved as a conserved process for bulk degradation and recycling of cytoplasmic components to maintain basal cellular homeostasis and healthy organelle populations in the cell. Furthermore, autophagy serves as a cell survival mechanism and can also be induced by chemical and physical stress to the cell. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that autophagy plays an essential role in vital cellular processes, including tissue remodeling. This review will discuss some of the recent advancements made in understanding the role of this fundamental process in airway fibrosis with emphasis on airway remodeling, and how autophagy can be exploited as a target for airway remodeling in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
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