Autophagy and the regulation of the immune response

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Autophagy is a highly conserved mechanism of lysosomal-mediated protein degradation that plays a crucial role in maintaining cellular homeostasis by recycling amino acids, reducing the amount of damaged proteins and regulating protein levels in response to extracellular signals. In the last few years specific functions for different forms of autophagy have been identified in many tissues and organs. In the Immune System, autophagy functions range from the elimination infectious agents and the modulation of the inflammatory response, to the selection of antigens for presentation and the regulation of T cell homeostasis and activation. Here, we review the recent advances that have allowed us to better understand why autophagy is a crucial process in the regulation of the innate and adaptive immune responses.

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