Autophagy in vascular endothelial cells

Authors

  • Fan Jiang

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, School of Basic Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong Province, China
    • Correspondence

      Fan Jiang, Department of Pathology and Pathophysiology, School of Basic Medicine, Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong Province, China.

      Email: fjiang@sdu.edu.cn

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Summary

The importance of autophagy in cardiovascular physiology and cardiovascular disease is increasingly recognized; however, the precise biological effects and underlying mechanisms of autophagy in the cardiovascular system are still poorly understood. In the last few years, the effects of autophagy in endothelial cells have attracted great interests. This article provides a summary of our current knowledge on the regulatory factors, signalling mechanisms, and functional outcomes of autophagy in endothelial cells. It is suggested that in most situations, induction of an autophagic response has cytoprotective effects. The beneficial effects of autophagy in endothelial cells are likely to be context-dependent, since autophagy may also contribute to cell death under certain circumstances. In addition to regulating endothelial cell survival or death, autophagy is also involved in modulating other important functions, such as nitric oxide production, angiogenesis and haemostasis/thrombosis. The mounting data will help us draw a clear picture of the roles of autophagy in endothelial cell biology and dysfunction. Given the pivotal role of endothelial dysfunction in the pathogenesis of vascular disease, disruptions of autophagy in endothelial cells are likely to have significant contributions. This is supported by some preliminary ex vivo data indicating that compromised autophagic functions may be important in the development of endothelial dysfunctions associated with diabetes and ageing.

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