How Cells Cheat Death
Cells are constantly fighting between life and death. It is believed that once cells go through certain incidences, their death is irreversible. Incidences such as, shrinkage, the breakdown of DNA or mitochondria, condensation of the nucleus, as well as activation of caspases. A new ability to replenished cells was recently discovered; it is called anastasis. Anastasis is a natural cell recovery that rescues cells from the brink of death (Tang, 2018). Its purpose is to save cells that are challenging to replace by removing the toxin, for instance the cells in the heart muscle and neurons in the adult brain. Anastasis targets six different areas of the cell. One being that heat-shock protein can suppress caspase activation. Second, mitochondria that have fallen apart can glue themselves back together. Third, the messenger RNS’s that end up dying from apoptosis can recover. Fourth, any damaged cellular components are removed. Fifth, cells lose their phosphatidylserine signals from their surfaces. Lastly, anastasis can generate angiogenesis and cell relocation, which could boost supplement ingestion and eliminate excess that resulted because of apoptosis. It can additionally halt the cell cycle to give the cell time to restore (Choi, 2019). If this process happens late in apoptosis, the cells that survived can carry major chromosomal damages and genetic defects that can lead to malignancies.
Studies show that anastasis is an active two-stage program. In the early stage, cells transition from a halted growth to continues growing. This stage involves re-entry to the cell cycle, transcription, and stress response. In the late stage, HeLa cells change from replicating to migratory; it also involves morphological changes and cytoskeletal rearrangement. These processes are suggestive of wound healing responses that tie into cells evolving the ability to reduce permanent tissue impairment after a temporary injury. The estimated recovery of cells goes from 3% to almost 50%. Although anastasis can potentially lead to revolutionary new therapies for the heart and brain, there are still issues present. For example, the problem that was found with this process occurs when dealing with cancer. If a patient is being treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy, it can promote cells growth that leads to tumor recurrence (Sun et al, 2017). There are different ways that cells can undergo anastasis, either in vitro on in vivo. The ways observed in vitro are in cancerous and non-cancerous cell lines. These include, HeLa, glioma, and NIH3T3 cell lines, and primary cells isolated from the liver or heart. In vivo, we observe it in epithelial tissues in Drosophila, and cardiac and neuronal cells. It was discovered that anastasis occurring in vivo is an ancient and evolutionary process when the study was done to flies and mammals.
How it works
It is hypothesized that cells evolved the ability to undergo anastasis to limit the permanent tissue damage caused by critical but fleeting injuries, chemical stress, or radiation exposure (Sun, 2017). Because this is a newly discovered process, it leaves us with many questions. Like, are the cells that undergo this process resistant to future stress? Is there a way to revive healthy cells without the effect of spreading cancerous cells? To conclude, diving into this topic was very informative for me because I was not confident if the possibility of cells cheating death existed. This topic was extremely interesting, and I look forward to reading any new advances and studies regarding anastasis.
Tang, Ho Man, and Ho Lam Tang. “Anastasis: recovery from the brink of cell death.” Royal Society open science vol. 5,9 180442. 19 Sep. 2018, doi:10.1098/rsos.180442
Choi, Charles Q. “Infographic: How Cells Cheat Death.” The Scientist Magazine®, 1 Feb. 2019, www.the-scientist.com/infographics/infographic–cell-death-65399.
Sun, Gongping, et al. “A molecular signature for anastasis, recovery from the brink of apoptotic cell death.” J Cell Biol216.10 (2017): 3355-3368.
Sun, Gongping, and Denise J. Montell. “Q&A: Cellular near death experiences—what is anastasis?.” BMC biology 15.1 (2017): 92.