Blue-print autophagy: Potential for cancer treatment

Nadia Ruocco, Susan Costantini, Maria Costantini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The marine environment represents a very rich source of biologically active compounds with pharmacological applications. This is due to its chemical richness, which is claiming considerable attention from the health science communities. In this review we give a general overview on the marine natural products involved in stimulation and inhibition of autophagy (a type of programmed cell death) linked to pharmacological and pathological conditions. Autophagy represents a complex multistep cellular process, wherein a double membrane vesicle (the autophagosome) captures organelles and proteins and delivers them to the lysosome. This natural and destructive mechanism allows the cells to degrade and recycle its cellular components, such as amino acids, monosaccharides, and lipids. Autophagy is an important mechanism used by cells to clear pathogenic organism and deal with stresses. Therefore, it has also been implicated in several diseases, predominantly in cancer. In fact, pharmacological stimulation or inhibition of autophagy have been proposed as approaches to develop new therapeutic treatments of cancers. In conclusion, this blue-print autophagy (so defined because it is induced and/or inhibited by marine natural products) represents a new strategy for the future of biomedicine and of biotechnology in cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138
JournalMarine Drugs
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Autophagy
  • Cancer
  • Marine environment
  • Natural products

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery


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