Autophagy is a cellular process that mediates selective degradation of cellular components in lysosomes.
Autophagy may protect against neuronal apoptosis, which is induced in a number of neurodegenerative diseases. Thus,
compounds that modulate autophagy could be beneficial to treat neurological disorders characterized by apoptosis such as
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, as well as human-immunodeficiency virus-dementia complex. In this paper, we
review new and old evidence on the role of autophagy in neuronal cell survival and we present evidence that humanimmunodeficiency
virus may have adapted strategies to alter autophagic pathways in neurons. Moreover, we discuss the
usefulness of drugs that facilitate autophagic clearance of proteins that are associated with neurodegeneration.
Keywords: Autophagy, apoptosis, beclin-1, gp120, lysosomes, Parkin.
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