Functional amino acids and autophagy: Diverse signal transduction and application

Chunchen Liu, Linbao Ji, Jinhua Hu, Ying Zhao, Lee J. Johnston, Xiujun Zhang, Xi Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Functional amino acids provide great potential for treating autophagy‐related diseases by regulating autophagy. The purpose of the autophagy process is to remove unwanted cellular contents and to recycle nutrients, which is controlled by many factors. Disordered autophagy has been reported to be associated with various diseases, such as cancer, neurodegeneration, aging, and obesity. Autophagy cannot be directly controlled and dynamic amino acid levels are sufficient to regulate autophagy. To date, arginine, leucine, glutamine, and methionine are widely reported functional amino acids that regulate autophagy. As a signal relay station, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) turns various amino acid signals into autophagy signaling pathways for functional amino acids. Deficiency or supplementation of functional amino acids can immediately regulate autophagy and is associated with autophagy‐related disease. This review summarizes the mechanisms currently involved in autophagy and amino acid sensing, diverse signal transduction among functional amino acids and autophagy, and the therapeutic appeal of amino acids to autophagy‐related diseases. We aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the mechanisms of amino acid regulation of autophagy and the role of functional amino acids in clinical autophagy‐related diseases and to further convert these mechanisms into feasible therapeutic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11427
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31930106, 31829004, and 31722054), the 2115 Talent Development Program of China Agricultural University (1041‐00109019), the National Ten‐Thousand Talents Program of China (23070201), and the 111 Project (B16044).Our profound admiration and respect go to researchers in this field and in our laboratories, for their dedication and hard work. We apologize to scientists whose work is in this field if their papers are not cited owing to space limitations.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Autophagy
  • Autophagy‐related diseases
  • Functional amino acids
  • MTORC1
  • Signal transduction


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional amino acids and autophagy: Diverse signal transduction and application'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this