Apoptosis is the tightly controlled pattern of cell death necessary for typical growth and development in multicellular organisms mechanism characterized by depolymerization of cytoskeleton, cell shrinkage, chromatin condensation, nuclear fragmentation and translocation of phosphatidylserine to the cell surface.
Apoptosis arises from a number of stimuli that initiate multiple signaling pathways which lead to caspase cascade activation and cell death. Apoptosis prevents damaged cells from consuming essential nutrients and spreading infection. Increases in apoptotic activity are hallmarks of several disease states including AIDS, neurodegenerative disorders, insulin-dependent diabetes, myocardial infarction and atherosclerosis.
Defective apoptosis can result in abnormal development and pathogenesis.