The role of autophagy in cancer chemotherapy drug resistance


  • Monireh Asoudeh Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
  • Paul Dalhaimer Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA; Department of Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA



autophagy, chemotherapy, drug resistance, cancer, reactive oxygen species


About 650,000 cancer patients are treated with chemotherapy drugs each year. There have been tremendous advances in this field over the past several decades. However, major obstacles remain. One of these obstacles is that cancer cells become drug resistant. 90% of clinical failures in chemotherapy treatment are because of drug resistance. In this review, we focus on the role of autophagy in cancer cell drug resistance. In non-cancerous cells, autophagy is constitutively active, but can be augmented by nutrient deprivation, reactive oxygen species (ROS), and pathogen invasion. It can either keep cells alive or trigger apoptosis, depending on the degree of disruption of cell homeostasis. These are critical considerations in cancer treatment: autophagy can either kill cells or it can keep cancer cells alive, furthering drug resistance. In cancer cells, chemotherapy typically triggers ROS. ROS then activate autophagy through several pathways. Thus, understanding how autophagy works in cancer cells that have been exposed to drugs can be a valuable weapon to combat drug resistance.


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Autophagy in cancer resistance to chemotherapy




How to Cite

Asoudeh, M., & Dalhaimer, P. (2022). The role of autophagy in cancer chemotherapy drug resistance . Scientific Letters, 1(1), 4.