2017 Volume 58 Issue 5 Pages 666-673
The risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age, causing chronic disability, morbidity, and mortality in the elderly. Cardiovascular aging and disease are characterized by heart failure, cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury, cardiomyopathy, hypertension, arterial stiffness, and atherosclerosis. As a cell ages, damaged organelles and abnormal proteins accumulate. A system for removing these cytoplasmic substrates is essential for maintaining homeostasis. Autophagy assists tissue homeostasis by forming a pathway by which these substances are degraded. Growing evidence suggests that autophagy plays a role in age-related and disease states of the cardiovascular system, and it may even be effective in preventing or treating cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, overexpression of autophagy in the heart and arteries can produce detrimental effects. We summarize the current understanding of the close relationship between autophagy and cardiovascular senescence.