What is Apoptosis

Apoptosis is a term which is generally defined as normal death of cells in living organisms. It is a process in which cell’s death is referred to as programmed death. In this process, the cells commit suicide. It is a natural process that removes the cells that have become old and are no longer needed. No doubt, clean up is very essential. That is why; unwanted and damaged cells are removed from the body with the process of apoptosis.

Apoptosis is a constant process of human body and it follows a predictable routine. New cells are created and old cells are removed from the body. Apoptosis is generally confused with the term necrosis which is a process of the death of the cells through some infection or injury in the body. If the process if apoptosis is not being done properly by our body, it can lead to many health problems like tumors. Human embryos have more cells than adults. If the process of apoptosis of cells is not functioning properly in the embryo, then it can cause problems in the growth of the embryo. This is the reason, why the process of apoptosis is so essential for the human body.

Apoptosis is not only essential for human beings, but it is also very important for the proper growth of animals. It goes for each and every living organism. Apoptosis is the process which is behind the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies and tadpoles into frogs. Plants also go through this process for the proper growth. Apoptosis can occur because of intrinsic or extrinsic signals. Extrinsic signals can be treatments like chemotherapy. The process of apoptosis and the intrinsic signals which a cell has to go through are:

  • Withdrawal for positive signals i.e. the receipt of negative signals that the cell is no more needed and has to be removed. Negative signals can include increased level of oxidants, damage to DNA etc.
  • After this, the protein in the cells is being eaten by the enzymes.
  • The DNA in the nucleus of the cell starts to shrink.
  • Then the DNA is broken into fragments.
  • The nucleus is also broken into pieces and the cell also goes through a process that is called as blebbing.
  • The process if blebbing causes the cell to break down into many pieces and then finally the pieces of cells are eaten by other small cells.

After this process, the digestion of small cells that are also known as phagocytes is very important. Otherwise it can cause danger and can even lead to the death of the person.