Science & Technology
Apoptosis is the term used to describe programmed cell death (PCD) in multicellular organisms. Apoptosis is one of the main types of programmed cell death which involving a cascade of biochemical events leading to specific changes in the cell at the level of the nucleus (chromatin condensation, DNA fragmentation), cytoplasm (mitochondrial swelling, breakdown of the mitochondrial membrane potential, caspase activation) and plasmamembrane (shrinkage, blebbing) and ultimately to cell death. Apoptosis differs from necrosis, the other major type of cell death, in that the processes associated with apoptosis in disposal of cellular debris tend not to induce inflammation and further damage to the organism as a whole.
Necrosis is a form of traumatic cell death that results from acute cellular injury. Apoptosis in contrast to necrosis, confers advantages during an organism’s life cycle. Since the 1990′s research has increased substantially in the field of apoptosis. It has been shown that defective apoptotic processes in humans and animals are related to a variety of diseases. Excessive apoptosis has been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimjer’s diseases, and diseases resulting from ischemic damage. Deficient apoptosis on the other hand can lead to uncontrolled cell proliferation, as occurs in cancer.