The role of autophagy in vascular biology

Samuel C. Nussenzweig, Subodh Verma, Toren Finkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


There is increasing interest in the role of autophagic flux in maintaining normal vessel wall biology and a growing suspicion that autophagic dysregulation may be a common pathway through which vascular aging and associated pathologies develop. Within endothelial and smooth muscle cells, diverse but important triggers that range from oxidized lipids to β-amyloid seem to stimulate autophagosome formation potently. In addition, emerging evidence links autophagy to a wide array of vascular processes ranging from angiogenesis to calcification of the vessel wall. Alterations in autophagic flux are also increasingly being implicated in disease processes that include both atherosclerosis and pulmonary hypertension. Finally, recent insights point toward an important role of autophagy in the paracrine regulation of vasoactive substances from the endothelium. Here, we review the progress in understanding how autophagy can contribute to vascular biology and the emerging strategies to target this process for therapeutic benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-488
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Angiogenesis effect
  • Autophagy
  • Endothelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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