The term Autophagy was introduced by Christian de Duve during the Ciba Foundation Symposium on Lysosomes – which was held in London in February 1963. In 1974 he was honoured with the Nobel price in Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering research about peroxisomes and lysosomes. In 2016, once more, a pioneer in the field of autophagy research won the Nobel price: Yoshinori Ohsumi, a Japanese researcher, whose findings “led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content”.
Autophagy (Autophagocytosis) describes the fundamental catabolic mechanism during which cells degrade dysfunctional and unnecessary cellular components. This process is driven by the action of lysosomes and promotes survival during starvation periods as the cellular energy level can thus be maintained.