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Cells 2012, 1(3), 597-616; doi:10.3390/cells1030597

Heavy Metals and Metalloids as Autophagy Inducing Agents: Focus on Cadmium and Arsenic

Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Molecolari e Biomolecolari STEMBIO, Università di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Edificio 16, Palermo 90128, Italy
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Received: 19 July 2012 / Revised: 10 August 2012 / Accepted: 14 August 2012 / Published: 27 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autophagy)
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Abstract

In recent years, research on the autophagic process has greatly increased, invading the fields of biology and medicine. Several markers of the autophagic process have been discovered and various strategies have been reported studying this molecular process in different biological systems in both physiological and stress conditions. Furthermore, mechanisms of metalloid- or heavy metal-induced toxicity continue to be of interest given the ubiquitous nature and distribution of these contaminants in the environment where they often play the role of pollutants of numerous organisms. The aim of this review is a critical analysis and correlation of knowledge of autophagic mechanisms studied under stress for the most common arsenic (As) and cadmium (Cd) compounds. In this review we report data obtained in different experimental models for each compound, highlighting similarities and/or differences in the activation of autophagic processes. A more detailed discussion will concern the activation of autophagy in Cd-exposed sea urchin embryo since it is a suitable model system that is very sensitive to environmental stress, and Cd is one of the most studied heavy metal inductors of stress and modulator of different factors such as: protein kinase and phosphatase, caspases, mitochondria, heat shock proteins, metallothioneins, transcription factors, reactive oxygen species, apoptosis and autophagy. View Full-Text
Keywords: autophagy; apoptosis; arsenic; cadmium; stress; sea urchin embryos autophagy; apoptosis; arsenic; cadmium; stress; sea urchin embryos
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Chiarelli, R.; Roccheri, M.C. Heavy Metals and Metalloids as Autophagy Inducing Agents: Focus on Cadmium and Arsenic. Cells 2012, 1, 597-616.

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