Emerging roles of autophagy in the development and treatment of urothelial carcinoma of the bladder.

High recurrence rates, frequent surveillance strategies and current multidisciplinary treatment approaches make urothelial carcinoma of bladder (UCB) one of the most expensive cancers to clinically manage. Recent studies have demonstrated a role for autophagy in bladder tumorigenesis. It serves as a tumor suppressor by maintaining genomic integrity and preventing tumor proliferation during initial stages of tumor development. Nevertheless, once established, cancer cells may utilize protective autophagy to endure cellular stress and survive in the adverse environment. Its excessive stimulation supports cancer cells resistance to therapeutic modalities.

PubMed and Google Scholar electronic databases were searched for recently published studies. This review summarizes emerging roles of autophagy in development/progression of UCB and treatment resistance and explores novel therapeutic targets for prevention of cancer invasion, metastatic spread and disease relapse.

The development of novel therapies via targeting of autophagy may augment current treatment regimens and improve clinical outcomes. Synthetic compounds or plant-based metabolites are reported to enhance cancer therapies by modulating autophagic flux. Successful autophagy-focused therapeutic intervention requires a mechanistic understanding of autophagic effects on tumor initiation and progression and the development of efficient biomarkers to monitor it in tumor tissues.

Expert opinion on therapeutic targets. 2021 Oct 12 [Epub ahead of print]

Pratishtha Gupta, Niraj Kumar, Minal Garg

Department of Biochemistry, University of Lucknow, Lucknow - 226007, India.