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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1994 Oct;128(2):169-81.

Apoptosis: molecular control point in toxicity.

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Toxicology Program, University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy, Albuquerque 87131.


Apoptosis is a controlled form of cell death that serves as a molecular point of regulation for biological processes. Cell selection by apoptosis occurs during normal physiological functions as well as toxicities and diseases. Apoptosis is the counterpart and counterbalance to mitosis in cell population determination. Complex patterns of cell signaling and specific gene expression are clearly involved in the control of cell fate. Exposure to an apogen, a trigger of apoptosis, can significantly increase apoptotic cell loss during homeostatic processes as well as acute or chronic toxicities. Alternately, suppression of apoptosis through, for example, interference in cell signaling can result in pathological accumulation of aberrant cells and diseases such as tumors. Investigations into the mechanisms underlying apoptosis have extended into many areas, driven by increasingly sophisticated instrumental and molecular biology techniques. This symposium summary explores related aspects of apoptosis, including control of cell population size and function, specific gene activity and regulation, chromatin condensation and scaffold detachment, oxidative stress-induced cell proliferation versus death by apoptosis or necrosis, and hepatotoxicant-induced apoptosis versus necrosis. Insights into the mechanisms governing apoptosis and increasing appreciation of the relevance of apoptotic cell death are redirecting research in toxicology and carcinogenesis and are yielding novel therapeutic approaches for the control of toxicity, disease, and ultimately perhaps senescence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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