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.
Keywords: Autophagy, alcoholic liver disease, ethanol, mitophagy, lipophagy, liver injury, steatosis, mitochondria damage.
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