Autophagy-promoting agents, administered either locally to the lungs or systemically, could have a clinical application as adjunctive treatment of drug-resistant
and drug-sensitive tuberculosis. Moreover, vaccines which effectively induce autophagy could be more successful in preventing acquisition or reactivation of latent tuberculosis. Tuberculosis has been declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) : the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) has increased dramatically, fuelled by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, while globalization and migration have ensured that all countries are affected . The rapid spread of drug-resistant strains of TB, with click here mortality rates from extensively drug-resistant strains of up to 98%, is cause for
serious concern . Autophagy is a highly conserved process for the delivery of long-lived cytosolic macromolecules and whole organelles to lysosomes for degradation. During starvation, autophagy BI 6727 cell line acts as a cell survival mechanism, providing essential amino acids [4,5], but autophagy is also important for removing potentially harmful cellular constituents, such as damaged mitochondria, misfolded proteins or protein aggregates . Three distinct types of autophagy have been described; micro-autophagy, in which cytosol is directly engulfed by lysosomes ; chaperone-mediated autophagy, in which specific proteins are recognized by a cytosolic chaperone and targeted to the lysosome ; and macro-autophagy (hereafter referred to as autophagy), in which an isolation membrane, or phagophore, fuses with itself to form an autophagosome with a distinctive
double-membrane, which can then fuse with lysosomes . Evidence is emerging that autophagy plays a key role in promoting a number of critical elements of the host immune responses to infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. As we start to understand how autophagy is regulated, we may identify potential therapeutic targets in the fight against tuberculosis. Targeting autophagy could lead to effective treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis, Galactosylceramidase shorter treatments for drug-sensitive tuberculosis and more powerful vaccines, thereby helping to realize the goal of eliminating tuberculosis. Considerable evidence now exists of a role for autophagy in immune responses to numerous pathogenic microorganisms, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) [9,10]. Autophagy may play multiple roles within this response, both as an effector of cytokine/vitamin D-directed killing mechanisms and as a modulator of cytokine secretion (Fig. 1). The importance of autophagy in the host immune response against Mtb is highlighted further by the fact that virulent mycobacteria have evolved mechanisms to inhibit autophagy and the production of proinflammatory mediators, such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, which itself induces autophagy .