Necrosis Cell Death

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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Necrosis is classified as a disorganized cell death process in response to disease, cell injury, or lack of sufficient blood supply. Changes within the structure that indicate possible necrosis include “dense clumping and progressive disruption of both genetic material and of plasma and organelle membranes” (Understanding Pathophysiology). Forms of necrosis include coagulative necrosis due to chemical injury that affects the “heart, kidney, and adrenal glands” (Understanding Pathophysiology). Liquefactive necrosis is caused by ischemic injuries to brain tissue and caseous necrosis is caused by tuberculous pulmonary infections.

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Lastly, fatty necrosis, which occurs in the “breasts, pancreas, and other abdominal structures”, results from cellular dissolution.

Apoptosis is a controlled response to both normal and pathologic changes that occur within the body. Examples of pathologic changes that require apoptosis include cell injury, misfolded proteins, viral infections, and tissue duct obstructions. The process of apoptosis includes a regulated initiation and execution by proteases known as caspases. Once caspases are activated, they initiate a “suicide cascade” that eliminates cells in a controlled manner. As cell death occurs, chemicals are released to signal phagocytes to clear the remains of the dead cells. These phagocytes also minimize the risk of inflammation in surrounding tissues, unlike in necrosis. If apoptosis occurs less frequently than required, it could lead to the survival of abnormal or mutated cells.

Although both necrosis and apoptosis relate to cell death, they occur due to different reasons and have distinct impacts. Necrosis is a disorganized process that occurs because of multiple factors and causes inflammation in surrounding tissues due to the leakage of cell contents. On the other hand, apoptosis is a normal, organized process that regulates growth and development by eliminating excessive proliferation. Understanding both processes of necrosis and apoptosis is crucial as they play a significant role in determining whether the body is functioning normally or if there are potential harmful occurrences within the body.

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Necrosis Cell Death. (2019, Feb 22). Retrieved from