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Targeting autophagy as a potential therapeutic approach for melanoma therapy

He Liu, Zhaoyue He, Hans-Uwe Simon

Seminars in Cancer Biology Volume 23, Issue 5, October 2013, Pages 352–360

Abstract

Melanoma, occurring as a rapidly progressive skin cancer, is resistant to current chemo- and radiotherapy, especially after metastases to distant organs has taken place. Most chemotherapeutic drugs exert their cytotoxic effect by inducing apoptosis, which, however, is often deficient in cancer cells. Thus, it is appropriate to attempt the targeting of alternative pathways, which regulate cellular viability. Recent studies of autophagy, a well-conserved cellular catabolic process, promise to improve the therapeutic outcome in melanoma patients. Although a dual role for autophagy in cancer therapy has been reported, both protecting against and promoting cell death, the potential for using autophagy in cancer therapy seems to be promising. Here, we review the recent literature on the role of autophagy in melanoma with respect to the expression of autophagic markers, the involvement of autophagy in chemo- and immunotherapy, as well as the role of autophagy in hypoxia and altered metabolic pathways employed for melanoma therapy.