Ryoo, Hyung Don Department of Cell Biology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:December 2018
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- Cell death
- Role in animal development and disease
- Molecular regulators of apoptosis
- Exploiting apoptosis for treatment of cancer
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
Programmed cell death triggered by extracellular signals or genetically determined events and carried out by physiological processes within the cell. Apoptosis is one of the major forms of cell death in multicellular organisms (necrosis is the other form). Also referred to as programmed cell death, apoptosis is defined by specific changes in cell morphology, followed by the engulfment of the cell corpse by phagocytes (Fig. 1). Often, the death of certain cells through apoptosis enhances the overall health of an individual. The term apoptosis originates from a Greek word that means "to fall," as happens to the foliage of tree leaves in autumn, which helps the tree's survival. Defects in apoptosis are associated with a large number of diseases in humans. The most notable of these diseases are cancers. See also: Cancer; Cell (biology); Death; Oncology
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