Cadmium toxicity remains a major public health concern, despite a huge amount of work to explain its effects.
The kidney is the most sensitive organ; and we recently provide the first evidence of a direct upregulation of autophagy by
cadmium particularly in response to environmental relevant concentrations. Investigation of autophagy is greatly progressed
and various strategies have been reported for studying this molecular process in different biological systems both
in physiological and stress conditions. Furthermore, mechanisms of cadmium-induced autophagy in renal cells continue to
be of interest given the unknown physiologic function of this metal. Cadmium is persistent within cytosol; it might damage
proteins continuously and induces oxidative stress. The aim of this review is a critical analysis of knowledge about
autophagic mechanisms induced by cadmium. We also report data obtained in different experimental studies, using cadmium
and other xenobiotics, highlighting similarities in the induction of autophagic processes. A more detailed discussion
will concern the role of autophagy in cadmium exposed renal proximal convoluted tubule since it is a suitable model system
extremely sensitive to environmental stress and cadmium is one of the most nephrotoxic metals to which humans are
exposed. We finally conclude that deficiency of autophagic process may be the origin of cadmium nephrotoxicity.
Keywords: Cadmium, Autophagy, Oxidative stress, ER stress, Ubiquitin.
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