Guidelines for the use and interpretation of assays for monitoring autophagy (3rd edition)
Many researchers, especially those new to the field, need to determine which criteria are essential for demonstrating autophagy, either for the purposes of their own research, or in the capacity of a manuscript or grant review.1 Acceptable standards are an important issue, particularly considering that each of us may have his/her own opinion regarding the answer. Unfortunately, the answer is in part a “moving target” as the field evolves.2 This can be extremely frustrating for researchers who may think they have met those criteria, only to find out that the reviewers of their papers have different ideas. Conversely, as a reviewer, it is tiresome to raise the same objections repeatedly, wondering why researchers have not fulfilled some of the basic requirements for establishing the occurrence of an autophagic process. In addition, drugs that potentially modulate autophagy are increasingly being used in clinical trials, and screens are being carried out for new drugs that can modulate autophagy for therapeutic purposes. Clearly it is important to determine whether these drugs are truly affecting autophagy, and which step(s) of the process is affected, based on a set of accepted criteria. Accordingly, we describe here a basic set of contemporary guidelines that can be used by researchers to plan and interpret their experiments, by clinicians to evaluate the literature with regard to autophagy-modulating therapies, and by both authors and reviewers to justify or criticize an experimental approach.
This article is from Autophagy 12 (2016): 1, doi: 10.1080/15548627.2015.1100356.