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Genes Dev. 2006 Jan 1;20(1):1-15.

Necrotic death as a cell fate.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA.


Organismal homeostasis depends on an intricate balance between cell death and renewal. Early pathologists recognized that this balance could be disrupted by the extensive damage observed in internal organs during the course of certain diseases. This form of tissue damage was termed "necrosis", derived from the Greek "nekros" for corpse. As it became clear that the essential building block of tissue was the cell, necrosis came to be used to describe pathologic cell death. Until recently, necrotic cell death was believed to result from injuries that caused an irreversible bioenergetic compromise. The cell dying by necrosis has been viewed as a victim of extrinsic events beyond its control. However, recent evidence suggests that a cell can initiate its own demise by necrosis in a manner that initiates both inflammatory and/or reparative responses in the host. By initiating these adaptive responses, programmed cell necrosis may serve to maintain tissue and organismal integrity.

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