© 2015 The Authors. Autophagy is a lysosomal mediated degradation activity providing an essential mechanism for recycling cellular constituents, and clearance of excess or damaged lipids, proteins and organelles. Autophagy involves more than 30 proteins and is regulated by nutrient availability, and various stress sensing signaling pathways. This article provides an overview of the mechanisms and regulation of autophagy, its role in health and diseases, and methods for its measurement. Hopefully this teaching review together with the graphic illustrations will be helpful for instructors teaching graduate students who are interested in grasping the concepts and major research areas and introducing recent developments in the field.