Apoptosis is the term given when programmed cell death (PCD) occurs in multicellular organisms. Apoptosis is one of the main types of programmed cell death which involves a series of biochemical events leading to specific cell morphology characteristics and ultimately death of cells. Characteristic cell morphology of cells undergoing apoptosis include blebbing, changes to the cell membrane such as loss of membrane asymmetry and attachment, cell shrinkage, nuclear fragmentation, chromatin condensation, and chromosomal DNA fragmentation. Apoptosis differentiates from necrosis as the processes associated with apoptosis in disposal of cellular debris do not damage the organism in apoptosis.
Necrosis is a form of traumatic cell death that results from acute cellular injury. Apoptosis in contrast to necrosis, confers advantages during an organism's life cycle. For instance during the development of the fetus in the mother, the differentiation of fingers and toes occurs because cells between the fingers apoptose with the end result that the digits are separate. Approximately between 50 billion and 70 billion cells die each day due to apoptosis in the average human adult. In a year, this amounts to the proliferation and subsequent destruction of a mass of cells equal to an individual's body weight.
Since the 1990's research has increased substantially in the field of apoptosis. It has been shown that defective apoptotic processes in humans and animals are related to a variety of diseases. Excessive apoptosis causes hypotrophy, such as in ischemic damage, whereas an insufficient amount results in uncontrolled cell proliferation, such as cancer.A lot of the inflammation and CVD issues associated with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, etc. lead to discussions of premature apoptosis which is how I came across this website and thought I would post it here for future reference.