Caspase-independent cell death

Nat Med. 2005 Jul;11(7):725-30. doi: 10.1038/nm1263.


Caspase activation has been frequently viewed as synonymous with apoptotic cell death; however, caspases can also contribute to processes that do not culminate in cell demise. Moreover, inhibition of caspases can have cytoprotective effects. In a number of different models, caspase inhibition does not maintain cellular viability and instead shifts the morphology of death from apoptosis to nonapoptotic pathways. Here, we explore the contribution of caspases to cell death, either as upstream signals or as downstream effectors contributing to apoptotic morphology, as well as alternative strategies for cell death inhibition. Such alternative strategies may either target catabolic hydrolases or be aimed at preventing mitochondrial membrane permeabilization and its upstream triggers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cell Death / physiology*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Caspases