The role of autophagy in colitis-associated colorectal cancer. uri icon


  • Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved catabolic process that eliminates harmful components through lysosomal degradation. In addition to its role in maintaining cellular homeostasis, autophagy is critical to pathological processes, such as inflammation and cancer. Colitis-associated colorectal cancer (CAC) is a specific type of colorectal cancer that develops from long-standing colitis in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Accumulating evidence indicates that autophagy of microenvironmental cells plays different but vital roles during tumorigenesis and CAC development. Herein, after summarizing the recent advances in understanding the role of autophagy in regulating the tumor microenvironment during different CAC stages, we draw the following conclusions: autophagy in intestinal epithelial cells inhibits colitis and CAC initiation but promotes CAC progression; autophagy in macrophages inhibits colitis, but its function on CAC is currently unclear; autophagy in neutrophils and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) promotes both colitis and CAC; autophagy in dendritic cells (DCs) and T cells represses both colitis and CAC; autophagy in natural killer cells (NKs) inhibits colitis, but promotes CAC; and autophagy in endothelial cells plays a controversial role in colitis and CAC. Understanding the role of autophagy in specific compartments of the tumor microenvironment during different stages of CAC may provide insight into malignant transformation, tumor progression, and combination therapy strategies for CAC.

altmetric score

  • 9.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, Y., Yao, J., Xie, J., Liu, Z., Zhou, Y., Pan, H., & Han, W.

citation count

  • 35

complete list of authors

  • Wu, Yuhui||Yao, Junlin||Xie, Jiansheng||Liu, Zhen||Zhou, Yubin||Pan, Hongming||Han, Weidong