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Apoptosis. 2004 Jan;9(1):77-82.

Stress-induced apoptosis: toward a symmetry with receptor-mediated cell death.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, Division of Molecular Pathology and Immunology, University of Parma, 43100 Parma, Italy.


Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death executed by caspases activated along signalling pathways initiated by ligation of cell-surface death receptors ( extrinsic pathway ) or by perturbation of the mithocondrial membrane promoted by physical or chemical stress agents ( intrinsic pathway ). In metazoans, this evolutionary conserved, genetically controlled process has a role in a variety of physiological settings, as development, homeostasis of tissues and maintenance of the organism integrity. When deranged by impaired regulation or inappropriate activation apoptosis contributes to the pathogenesis of diseases as autoimmunity, cancer, restenosis, ischaemia, heart failure and neurodegenerative disorders. In this review we will present a survey of the stress-induced intrinsic, mithochondrial, pathway and, based on recent experimental data, we will propose a view compatible with an emergent conceptual symmetry between the two apoptogenic extrinsic and intrinsic pathways. Elements of symmetry present in both the apoptogenic signalling pathways include: early activation of initiator caspases (feed-forwarded by a direct or post-mitocondrial effector caspase-mediated amplification loop in some cell types) and mitochondrial membrane permeabilization with required release of antagonists of active caspase inhibitors (IAPs) in high-level IAPs-expressing cells and apoptosome-mediated amplification of the caspase cascade more or less needed in different cell types.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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