The activation and function of autophagy in alcoholic liver disease

Bilon Khambu, Lin Wang, Hao Zhang, Xiao-Ming Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Scopus citations


Autophagy is an important lysosome-mediated intracellular degradation pathway required for tissue homeostasis. Dysregulation of liver autophagy is closely associated with different liver diseases including alcoholic liver disease. Studies now indicate that autophagy may be induced or suppressed depending on the amount and the duration of ethanol treatment. Autophagy induced by ethanol serves as a protective mechanism, probably by selective degradation of the damaged mitochondria (mitophagy) and excess lipid droplets (lipophagy) and in turn attenuates alcohol-induced steatosis and liver injury. However, the detailed molecular mechanism of selective targeting of mitochondria and lipid is still unclear. Autophagy may possess other functions that protect hepatocytes from ethanol. Understanding these molecular entities would be essential in order to therapeutically module autophagy for treatment of alcoholic liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Molecular Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Autophagy
  • Ethanol
  • Lipophagy
  • Liver injury
  • Mitochondria damage
  • Mitophagy
  • Steatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

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