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Programmed cell death

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The physiological events mediated by an intracellular program leading to the death of a cell


The programmed cell death is one of the two major kinds of cell death. The other is necrosis. Programmed cell death is a kind of cell death that is regulated by an intracellular program.1 The cell undergoes a natural process of death after completing a number of cell divisions. The cell ceases to carry out its functions and dies to be replaced by new ones. In contrast, necrosis is the death of the cell due to factors such as disease, injury, or the death of the organism.

The programmed cell death is essential to the development, for instance, of humans. As a human embryo develops within the womb the cells between the fingers undergo programmed cell death (particularly apoptosis) so that the digits would not remain fused but separate.

The programmed type of cell death is further categorized into type I cell death (or apoptosis) and type II cell death (or autophagy).

Abbreviation / Acronym: PCD


See also:

1 Engelberg-Kulka H, Amitai S, Kolodkin-Gal I, Hazan R (2006). "Bacterial Programmed Cell Death and Multicellular Behavior in Bacteria". PLoS Genetics 2 (10): e135.