Fibrosis may represent the final step induced by autoimmune mechanism(s). This may be due to the excess in fibroblast recruitment, activation and differentiation in myofibroblasts. These events may be triggered by cytokines, chemokines and growth factors released by lymphocytes or macrophages. Autophagy is an essential conserved homeostatic process that has long been appreciated for cell adaptation to nutrient deprivation. Autophagy is also recognized as an important component of both innate and acquired immunity to pathogens. Recently, dysregulation of autophagy in haematopoietic cells has been suggested to amplify the autoimmune responses. On the other hand, it is possible that defective autophagy in non-haematopoietic cells contributes to the progression to fibrosis. In fibroblasts some alterations in the metabolic pathways and pharmacological data suggest that a defective autophagy could contribute to excess in the production of extracellular matrix by altering the turnover of protein such as collagen. Our goal in this review is to describe the current knowledge on the role of autophagy in the development of fibrotic autoimmune diseases. Further studies could confirm whether agents modulating autophagy may be used in the treatment of these autoimmune diseases.
Keywords: Autophagy, fibrosis, autoimmune diseases, systemic scleroderma, cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, collagen, inositol, chemotherapy
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