Apoptosis in Cellular Society: Communication between Apoptotic Cells and Their Neighbors

Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Dec 20;17(12):2144. doi: 10.3390/ijms17122144.


Apoptosis is one of the cell-intrinsic suicide programs and is an essential cellular behavior for animal development and homeostasis. Traditionally, apoptosis has been regarded as a cell-autonomous phenomenon. However, recent in vivo genetic studies have revealed that apoptotic cells actively influence the behaviors of surrounding cells, including engulfment, proliferation, and production of mechanical forces. Such interactions can be bidirectional, and apoptosis is non-autonomously induced in a cellular community. Of note, it is becoming evident that active communication between apoptotic cells and living cells contributes to physiological processes during tissue remodeling, regeneration, and morphogenesis. In this review, we focus on the mutual interactions between apoptotic cells and their neighbors in cellular society and discuss issues relevant to future studies of apoptosis.

Keywords: apoptosis; engulfment; mechanical force; non-cell autonomous effects; proliferation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / physiology
  • Morphogenesis / physiology
  • Phagocytosis / physiology*
  • Regeneration / physiology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*