Regulation of Exercise-Induced Autophagy in Skeletal Muscle

Altea Rocchi, Congcong He*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Physical exercise is a highly effective method to prevent several pathogenic conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, largely due to metabolic adaptations induced by exercise in skeletal muscle. Yet how exercise induces the beneficial effects in muscle remains to be fully elucidated. Autophagy is a lysosomal degradation pathway that regulates nutrient recycling, energy production, and organelle quality control. The autophagy pathway is upregulated in response to stress during exercise and muscle contraction, and may be an important mechanism mediating exercise-induced health benefits. Recent Findings: A number of studies have indicated that physical exercise induces non-selective autophagy and selective mitophagy in skeletal muscle in animal models and humans. The AMPK-ULK1 and the FoxO3 signaling pathways play an essential role in the activation of the upstream autophagy machinery in skeletal muscle during exercise. The autophagy activity is required for health benefits of exercise, as in different autophagy-deficient mouse lines exercise-induced effects are abolished. Summary: This review aims to summarize and highlight the most recent findings on the role of autophagy in muscle maintenance, the molecular pathways that upregulate autophagy during exercise, and the potential functions of exercise-induced autophagy and mitophagy in skeletal muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Pathobiology Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • AMP-activated protein kinase
  • Autophagy
  • Forkhead box protein transcription factor 3
  • Mitophagy
  • Physical exercise
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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