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J Intern Med. 2005 Dec;258(6):479-517.

Apoptosis: a basic biological phenomenon with wide-ranging implications in human disease.

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1
Division of Molecular Toxicology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. bengt.fadeel@ki.se

Abstract

Apoptosis is a highly regulated process of cell deletion and plays a fundamental role in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis in the adult organism. Numerous studies in recent years have revealed that apoptosis is a constitutive suicide programme expressed in most, if not all cells, and can be triggered by a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic signals. Many human diseases can be attributed directly or indirectly to a derangement of apoptosis, resulting in either cell accumulation, in which cell eradication or cell turnover is impaired, or cell loss, in which the apoptotic programme is inadvertently triggered. In addition, defective macrophage engulfment and degradation of cell corpses may also contribute to a dysregulation of tissue homeostasis. An increased understanding of the signalling pathways that govern the execution of apoptosis and the subsequent clearance of dying cells may thus yield novel targets for therapeutic intervention in a wide range of human maladies.

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