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Surg Infect (Larchmt). 2006 Feb;7(1):53-68.

Apoptosis and necrosis: a review for surgeons.

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Department of Surgery, the Price Institute of Surgical Research, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA.



Orderly cell death, termed apoptosis, features a morphology that is distinct from necrotic, or accidental, cell death. As the body of literature on apoptotic cell death grows, it is difficult for practicing surgeons to stay current with the involved mechanisms and their biologic significance.


A MEDLINE/PubMed literature search was conducted, followed by manual crossreferencing, to identify relevant articles published in the English language between 1972 and 2004.


Apoptosis is now known to be involved in numerous disease states. Ischemia-reperfusion injury and acute pancreatitis are but two surgical entities in which the balance of apoptotic and necrotic cell death has a profound effect on clinical outcome. Similarly, the timing and extent of apoptosis in immune cells are important factors that determine the outcome of septic patients.


As already demonstrated in animal models, further research in this field will target opportunities for therapeutic intervention, making it increasingly important for clinicians to be familiar with apoptosis and necrosis, and their roles in normal and pathologic states.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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