Nearly 100 years have passed since Frederick Banting and Charles Best first discovered and purified insulin. Their discovery and subsequent improvements revolutionized the treatment of diabetes, and the field continues to move at an ever-faster pace with respect to unique treatments for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Despite these advances, we still do not fully understand how apoptosis of the insulin-producing b-cells is triggered, presenting a challenge in the development of preventative measures. In recent years, the process of autophagy has generated substantial interest in this realm due to discoveries highlighting its clear role in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis. As a result, the number of studies focused on islet and b-cell autophagy has increased substantially in recent years. In this review, we will discuss what is currently known regarding the role of b-cell autophagy in type 1 and type 2 diabetes pathogenesis, with an emphasis on new and exciting developments over the past 5 years. Further, we will discuss how these discoveries might be translated into unique treatments in the coming years.
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