Macroautophagy/autophagy occurs at basal levels in all eukaryotic cells and plays an important role in maintaining bio-energetic homeostasis through the control of molecule degradation and organelle turnover. It can be induced by environmental conditions such as starvation, and is deregulated in many diseases including autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer. Interestingly, the modulation of autophagy in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represents a possible mechanism which, affecting MSC properties, may have an impact on their regenerative, therapeutic potential. Furthermore, the ability of MSCs to modulate autophagy of cells in injured tissues/organs has been recently proposed to be involved in the regeneration of damaged tissues and organs. In particular, MSCs can affect autophagy in immune cells involved in injury-induced inflammation reducing their survival, proliferation, and function and favoring the resolution of inflammation. In addition, MSCs can affect autophagy in endogenous adult or progenitor cells, promoting their survival, proliferation and differentiation supporting the restoration of functional tissue. This review provides, for the first time, an overview of the studies which highlight a possible link between the therapeutic properties of MSCs and their ability to modulate autophagy, and it summarizes examples of disorders where these therapeutic properties have been correlated with such modulation. A better elucidation of the mechanism(s) through which MSCs can modulate the autophagy of target cells and how autophagy can affect MSCs therapeutic properties, can provide a wider perspective for the clinical application of MSCs in the treatment of many diseases.
- regenerative medicine
- trophic action