Cardiovascular Toxicology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 220-229

First online:

Cardiovascular Autophagy: Crossroads of Pathology, Pharmacology and Toxicology

  • Joshua K. SalabeiAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Diabetes and Obesity Center, University of LouisvilleDepartment of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Louisville School of Medicine
  • , Daniel J. ConklinAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, Diabetes and Obesity Center, University of LouisvilleInstitute of Molecular Cardiology, University of Louisville School of Medicine Email author 

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death worldwide, despite the significant advances in medicine. Autophagy, a process of self-cannibalization employed by mammalian cells for the recycling of cellular contents, is altered not only in a number of CVDs, but in other diseases, as well. Many FDA-approved drugs are known to induce autophagy-mediated side effects in the cardiovascular system. In some cases, such drug-induced autophagy could be harnessed and used for treating CVD, greatly reducing the duration and cost of CVD treatments. However, because the induction of autophagy in cardiovascular targets can be both adaptive and maladaptive under specific settings, the challenge is to determine whether the changes stimulated by drug-induced autophagy are, in fact, beneficial. In this review, we surveyed a number of CVDs in which autophagy is known to occur, and we also address the role of FDA-approved drugs for which autophagy-mediated side effects occur within the cardiovascular system. The therapeutic potential of using small molecule modulators of autophagy in the management of CVD progression is discussed.


Autophagy Cardiovascular disease Drug-eluting stents LC3 Rapamycin Verapamil