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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2004 Dec;36(12):2405-19.

Apoptosis, autophagy, and more.

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Department of Biological Sciences, St. John's University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Jamaica, NY 11439, USA.


Cell death has been subdivided into the categories apoptosis (Type I), autophagic cell death (Type II), and necrosis (Type III). The boundary between Type I and II has never been completely clear and perhaps does not exist due to intrinsic factors among different cell types and the crosstalk among organelles within each type. Apoptosis can begin with autophagy, autophagy can end with apoptosis, and blockage of caspase activity can cause a cell to default to Type II cell death from Type I. Furthermore, autophagy is a normal physiological process active in both homeostasis (organelle turnover) and atrophy. "Autophagic cell death" may be interpreted as the process of autophagy that, unlike other situations, does not terminate before the cell collapses. Since switching among the alternative pathways to death is relatively common, interpretations based on knockouts or inhibitors, and therapies directed at controlling apoptosis must include these considerations.

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