Apoptosis: The Programmed Cell Death
What is Apoptosis? Why apoptosis is known as the ‘Programmed Cell Death’?
The total number of cells in an organ or organism is fundamentally fixed to a specific range in all multicellular organisms. In every multi-cellular organism, the cell number is effectively controlled by two strategies- (a) by regulating cell Division and (b) by regulating cell Death. If cells are no longer needed, they commit suicide (self-destruction) by activating an intracellular death signaling programme. Thus, this death process is known as ‘Programmed Cell Death’. This programmed cell death pathway is called Apoptosis.
The term apoptosis in Greek literally mean ‘falling off’. Just like the old leaves ‘falloff’ from the trees without affecting the life of the plant, the apoptotic cell death will not interfere with the functioning of the organ and organism. The most striking feature of apoptosis is that if a cell undergoes the programmed cell death, the neighboring cells are not at all damaged. Apoptotic death of a cell and its subsequent phagocytosis by a neighboring cell or by a macrophage allow the organic components of the death cell to be effectively recycled.
Learn more: Difference between Apoptosis and Necrosis
The apoptosis is better known as the ‘Programmed Cell Death’. It is a natural well-orchestrated, well sequenced and timely executed chain of events leads to the death of a cell.
What are the characteristics of Apoptotic Cell Death?
An apoptotic cell death is characterized by:
Ø Shrinkage of the cell
Ø Shrinkage of the nucleus
Ø Loss of adhesion to the neighboring cells