Autophagy deficiency in neurodevelopmental disorders

Zhiqiang Deng, Xiaoting Zhou, Jia Hong Lu, Zhenyu Yue

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Autophagy is a cell self-digestion pathway through lysosome and plays a critical role in maintaining cellular homeostasis and cytoprotection. Characterization of autophagy related genes in cell and animal models reveals diverse physiological functions of autophagy in various cell types and tissues. In central nervous system, by recycling injured organelles and misfolded protein complexes or aggregates, autophagy is integrated into synaptic functions of neurons and subjected to distinct regulation in presynaptic and postsynaptic neuronal compartments. A plethora of studies have shown the neuroprotective function of autophagy in major neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), Huntington’s disease (HD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recent human genetic and genomic evidence has demonstrated an emerging, significant role of autophagy in human brain development and prevention of spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders. Here we will review the evidence demonstrating the causal link of autophagy deficiency to congenital brain diseases, the mechanism whereby autophagy functions in neurodevelopment, and therapeutic potential of autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number214
JournalCell and Bioscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Autism
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuronal autophagy
  • Synaptic development


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