The role of autophagy in varicella zoster virus infection

Johanna Heinz, Peter G.E. Kennedy*, Trine H. Mogensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review


Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved cellular process serving to degrade cytosolic organelles or foreign material to maintain cellular homeostasis. Autophagy has also emerged as an important process involved in complex interactions with viral pathogens during infection. It has become apparent that autophagy may have either proviral or antiviral roles, depending on the cellular context and the specific virus. While evidence supports an antiviral role of autophagy during certain herpesvirus infections, numerous examples illustrate how herpesviruses may also evade autophagy pathways or even utilize this process to their own advantage. Here, we review the literature on varicella zoster virus (VZV) and autophagy and describe the mechanisms by which VZV may stimulate autophagy pathways and utilize these to promote cell survival or to support viral egress from cells. We also discuss recent evidence supporting an overall antiviral role of autophagy, particularly in relation to viral infection in neurons. Collectively, these studies suggest complex and sometimes opposing effects of autophagy in the context of VZV infection. Much remains to be understood concerning these virus–host interactions and the impact of autophagy on infections caused by VZV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1053
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Autophagy
  • Central nervous system
  • Endoplasmic reticulum
  • Latency
  • Pathogen
  • Phagosome
  • Varicella zoster virus


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