Programmed cell death

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Also known as apoptosis.

Programmed cell death is the process by which the body removes unwanted cells. It happens to a large extent in development, for example programmed cell death occurs between your fingers during development so that your fingers are separate, if this does not occur it results in syndactyly which is where your fingers are still joined together.

Programmed cell death occurs by the cell receiving a specific signal, shrinking and condensing as the cytoskeleton collapses the nuclear envelope is degraded along with the DNA. The cell then forms apoptotic bleds which are vesicles containing parts of the cell. These are then engulfed by macrophages and digested.
This is not to be confused with cell necrosis which is accidental cell death.


Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts, Walter. (2008). Molecular biology of the cell (5th ed.). new york: garland science. page 1115- 1129

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