Programmed cell death in development

Int Rev Cytol. 1995;163:105-73. doi: 10.1016/s0074-7696(08)62210-x.


Although cell death has long been recognized to be a significant element in the process of embryonic morphogenesis, its relationships to differentiation and its mechanisms are only now becoming apparent. This new appreciation has come about not only through advances in the understanding of cell death in parallel immunological and pathological situations, but also through progress in developmental genetics which has revealed the roles played by death in the cell lineages of invertebrate embryos. In this review, we discuss programmed cell death as it is understood in developmental situations, and its relationship to apoptosis. We describe the morphological and biochemical features of apoptosis, and some methods for its detection in tissues. The occurrence of programmed cell death during invertebrate development is reviewed, as well as selected examples in vertebrate development. In particular, we discuss cell death in the early vertebrate embryo, in limb development, and in the nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Extremities / growth & development
  • Invertebrates / growth & development*
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Vertebrates / embryology
  • Vertebrates / growth & development*