Date Published: May 31, 2012
Publisher: Impact Journals LLC
Author(s): B. Favaloro, N. Allocati, V. Graziano, C. Di Ilio, V. De Laurenzi.
Since the initial description of apoptosis, a number of different forms of cell death have been described. In this review we will focus on classic caspase-dependent apoptosis and its variations that contribute to diseases. Over fifty years of research have clarified molecular mechanisms involved in apoptotic signaling as well and shown that alterations of these pathways lead to human diseases. Indeed both reduced and increased apoptosis can result in pathology. More recently these findings have led to the development of therapeutic approaches based on regulation of apoptosis, some of which are in clinical trials or have entered medical practice.
Since its initial description cell death has appeared as a basic biological phenomenon fundamental for development and regulation of tissue homeostasis whose alteration has important implications in pathology . Indeed cell death contributes to tissue homeostasis by balancing mitosis and pathology can derive from both its increase or decrease. Since the initial description of cell death in the 1960s a number of different death mechanisms have been described and have been classified both on morphological and biochemical criteria. A recent paper published in CDD  by a large number of experts in the field has suggested a classification of the different types and is a good reference for the subject. This review will mostly focus on the role in different human diseases of caspase dependent apoptosis Table 1).