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Int J Oncol. 2002 Jul;21(1):165-70.

Cell death: apoptosis versus necrosis (review).

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, New York Medical College, Valhalla, USA.


Cell death and the subsequent post-mortem changes, called necrosis, are integral parts of normal development and maturation cycle. Despite the importance of this process, the mechanisms underlying cell death are still poorly understood. In the recent literature, cell death is said to occur by two alternative, opposite modes: apoptosis, a programmed, managed form of cell death, and necrosis, an unordered and accidental form of cellular dying. The incorrect consequence is the overlapping of: a) the process whereby cells die, cell death; and b) the changes that the cells and tissues undergo after the cells die. Only the latter process can be referred to as necrosis and represents a <no return> process in cell life. In this review, we discuss the excellent basic research developed in this field during last decades and problems that remain to be resolved in defining both experimentally and mechanicistically the events that lead to and characterize cell death.

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