Autophagy is intimately associated with eukaryotic cell death and apoptosis. Indeed, in some cases the same proteins control both autophagy and apoptosis. Apoptotic signalling can regulate autophagy and conversely autophagy can regulate apoptosis (and most likely other cell death mechanisms). However, the molecular connections between autophagy and cell death are complicated and, in different contexts, autophagy may promote or inhibit cell death. Surprisingly, although we know that, at its core, autophagy involves degradation of sequestered cytoplasmic material, and therefore presumably must be mediating its effects on cell death by degrading something, in most cases we have little idea of what is being degraded to promote autophagy's pro- or anti-death activities. Because autophagy is known to play important roles in health and many diseases, it is critical to understand the mechanisms by which autophagy interacts with and affects the cell death machinery since this will perhaps allow new ways to prevent or treat disease. In the present chapter, we discuss the current state of understanding of these processes.

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