Assessing autophagy in archived tissue or how to capture autophagic flux from a tissue snapshot

Magali Humbert*, María Morán, Patricia de la Cruz-Ojeda, Jordi Muntané, Tabea Wiedmer, Nadezda Apostolova, Sharon L. McKenna, Guillermo Velasco, Walter Balduini, Leopold Eckhart, Bassam Janji, Belém Sampaio-Marques, Paula Ludovico, Eva Žerovnik, Rupert Langer, Aurel Perren, Nikolai Engedal, Mario P. Tschan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Autophagy is a highly conserved degradation mechanism that is essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis. In human disease, autophagy pathways are frequently deregulated and there is immense interest in targeting autophagy for therapeutic approaches. Accordingly, there is a need to determine autophagic activity in human tissues, an endeavor that is hampered by the fact that autophagy is characterized by the flux of substrates whereas histology informs only about amounts and localization of substrates and regulators at a single timepoint. Despite this challenging task, considerable progress in establishing markers of autophagy has been made in recent years. The importance of establishing clear-cut autophagy markers that can be used for tissue analysis cannot be underestimated. In this review, we attempt to summarize known techniques to quantify autophagy in human tissue and their drawbacks. Furthermore, we provide some recommendations that should be taken into consideration to improve the reliability and the interpretation of autophagy biomarkers in human tissue samples.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Autophagy
  • Biomarkers
  • Disease
  • Pathology


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