The liver is a central fat-storage organ, making it especially susceptible to steatosis as well as subsequent inflammation and cirrhosis. The mechanisms by which the liver mobilizes stored lipid for energy production, however, remain incompletely defined. The catabolic process of autophagy, a well-known process of bulk cytoplasmic recycling and cellular self-regeneration, is a central regulator of lipid metabolism in the liver. In the past decade, numerous studies have examined a selective form of autophagy that specifically targets a unique neutral lipid storage organelle, the lipid droplet, to better understand the function for this process in hepatocellular fatty acid metabolism. In the liver (and other oxidative tissues), this specialized pathway, lipophagy, likely plays as important a role in lipid turnover as conventional lipase-driven lipolysis. In this review, we highlight several recent studies that have contributed to our understanding about the regulation and effects of hepatic lipophagy. (Hepatology Communications 2017;1:359–369).
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