Apoptosis vs Necrosis

Apoptosis is a programmed cell death in multicellular organisms, in which the process is controlled and the rate of cell death is proportional to the rate of cell division. Apoptosis is controlled by intracellular and extracellular signals. Extracellular signals may induce or inhibit apoptosis, such as toxins, hormones and cytokines. Nitric oxide can also induce apoptosis by dissipating the proton gradient by making the inner mitochondrial membrane more hydrogen permeable. Intracellular signals are released in a response to stress which can bring about apoptosis, for example heat or radiation. Proteins, such as p53, are release into the cytosol of the cell that will bind to apoptosis inhibiting receptors. This will cause apoptosis to occur. At first, enzymes break down the cytoskeleton of the cell and the cytoplasm becomes dense. Organelles within the cell become tightly packed and small blebs form as the cell membrane changes. Chromatin condenses, the nuclear envelope breaks and the nucleus fragments. Vesicles containing organelles form as a result of the blebs and these are consumed and destroyed by phagocytes. Apoptosis has a main role in animal and plant tissue developments, as there is extensive division of cells following the cell death. The components of a phagocytosed cell are reused. The separation of fingers and toes during limb development is a prime in embryogenesis example of where apoptosis is needed. Necrosis is the premature death of a cell as a result of injury to the cell, e.g. infection, toxin. Necrosis begins with an inability to maintain cell homeostasis leading to an increase in osmosis and ions into the cell. Organelles and the cell membrane undergo cell lysis. Similar to apoptosis, small blebs start to form and the structure of the nucleus changes. These blebs then fuse and increase in size, but no organelles are located in the blebs as in apoptosis. The cell membrane then breaks as a result of receptors in the cell being activated causing a loss in cell membrane integrity. The cell content is therefore release into extracellular fluid and can contain chemicals that may be harmful to surrounding cells. Unlike apoptosis, cell signals are not sent and an inflammatory response is initiated, making it harder for phagocytes to locate the cell and reuse organelles.
The evolutionary advantage conferred by necrosis is that it allows cells to actively recruit a defensive or a reparative response to regions of multicellular organisms that have sustained damage or invasion.

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