Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in women worldwide. Resistance to drugs and recurrence of the disease are two leading causes of failure in treatment. For a more efficient treatment of patients, the development of novel therapeutic regimes is needed. Recent studies indicate that modulation of autophagy in concert with apoptosis induction may provide a promising novel strategy in breast cancer treatment. Apoptosis and autophagy are two tightly regulated distinct cellular processes. To maintain tissue homeostasis abnormal cells are disposed largely by means of apoptosis. Autophagy, however, contributes to tissue homeostasis and cell fitness by scavenging of damaged organelles, lipids, proteins, and DNA. Defects in autophagy promote tumorigenesis, whereas upon tumor formation rapidly proliferating cancer cells may rely on autophagy to survive. Given that evasion of apoptosis is one of the characteristic hallmarks of cancer cells, inhibiting autophagy and promoting apoptosis can negatively influence cancer cell survival and increase cell death. Hence, combination of antiautophagic agents with the enhancement of apoptosis may restore apoptosis and provide a therapeutic advantage against breast cancer. In this review, we discuss the cross-talk of autophagy and apoptosis and the diverse facets of autophagy in breast cancer cells leading to novel models for more effective therapeutic strategies.

You do not currently have access to this content.