Autophagy, a highly conserved starvation response mechanism with both defensive and protective
effects in eukaryotic cells, is a lysosome-mediated degradation process for non-essential or damaged cellular
constituents. It plays an important role in the cell survival, differentiation and development to maintain homeostasis.
Autophagy is involved in cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases,
as well as tumours. Thus, modulating autophagy may provide potential therapeutic strategies. Recently, many
active components of Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) have been found to modulate autophagy in myocardial
cells, cerebral vascular cells, endothelial cells and tumour cells. This paper reviews the advances in studies on the
active components of CHM that modulating autophagy in treating cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases
over the past five years.