Pathology dictionary

What is apoptosis?

Apoptosis is a type of cell death. Apoptosis is called called programmed cell death because the cells follow a set of instructions which tell them how to die. These instructions allow the cell to die without damaging any of the healthy cells around it.

Over time, all healthy cells age and become damaged and some of these cells will undergo apoptosis naturally. In other circumstances, the body uses apoptosis to get rid of cells that are no longer needed.

A cell dying by apoptosis is called an apoptotic cell or apoptotic body.

Other types of cell death

Apoptosis is very different from another type of cell death called necrosis. In necrosis, the cell dies very quickly which can damage nearby healthy cells. Necrosis can also cause inflammation.

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