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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 498491, 20 pages
Review Article

Autophagy in Alcohol-Induced Multiorgan Injury: Mechanisms and Potential Therapeutic Targets

1Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Therapeutics, The University of Kansas Medical Center, MS 1018 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA
2Laboratory of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510006, China

Received 4 May 2014; Accepted 29 June 2014; Published 17 July 2014

Academic Editor: Patrice Codogno

Copyright © 2014 Yuan Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Autophagy is a genetically programmed, evolutionarily conserved intracellular degradation pathway involved in the trafficking of long-lived proteins and cellular organelles to the lysosome for degradation to maintain cellular homeostasis. Alcohol consumption leads to injury in various tissues and organs including liver, pancreas, heart, brain, and muscle. Emerging evidence suggests that autophagy is involved in alcohol-induced tissue injury. Autophagy serves as a cellular protective mechanism against alcohol-induced tissue injury in most tissues but could be detrimental in heart and muscle. This review summarizes current knowledge about the role of autophagy in alcohol-induced injury in different tissues/organs and its potential molecular mechanisms as well as possible therapeutic targets based on modulation of autophagy.