There is a clear link between defects in autophagy and the development of autoimmune and chronic inflammatory diseases, raising interest in better understanding the roles of autophagy within the immune system. In addition, autophagy has been implicated in the immune response to infection by pathogenic microbes. As such, there are efforts currently underway to develop modulators of autophagy as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of the autoimmune, inflammatory, and infectious diseases. In this review, we discuss the numerous roles for autophagy in immunity and how these activities are linked to disease. We highlight how autophagy affects pathogen clearance, phagocytosis, pattern recognition receptor signaling, inflammation, antigen presentation, cell death, and immune cell development and maintenance. With these diverse and extensive immune-related functions for autophagy in mind, we finish by considering the possible implications of targeting autophagy as a therapeutic strategy.
- host-directed therapies