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Experimental Diabetes Research
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 628978, 12 pages
Review Article

Autophagy as a Therapeutic Target in Diabetic Nephropathy

1Department of Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science, Otsu, Shiga 520-2192, Japan
2Division of Diabetes & Endocrinology, Kanazawa Medical University, Kahoku-Gun, Ishikawa 920-0293, Japan

Received 14 May 2011; Revised 1 August 2011; Accepted 17 August 2011

Academic Editor: Ki-Up Lee

Copyright © 2012 Yuki Tanaka 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.


Diabetic nephropathy is a serious complication of diabetes mellitus, and its prevalence has been increasing worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify a new therapeutic target to prevent diabetic nephropathy. Autophagy is a major catabolic pathway involved in degrading and recycling macromolecules and damaged organelles to maintain intracellular homeostasis. The study of autophagy in mammalian systems is advancing rapidly and has revealed that it is involved in the pathogenesis of various metabolic or age-related diseases. The functional role of autophagy in the kidneys is also currently under intense investigation although, until recently, evidence showing the involvement of autophagy in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy has been limited. We provide a systematic review of autophagy and discuss the therapeutic potential of autophagy in diabetic nephropathy to help future investigations in this field.