Programmed cell death pathways in cancer: a review of apoptosis, autophagy and programmed necrosis

Authors

  • L. Ouyang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • Z. Shi,

    1. Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment, Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
    2. School of Life Sciences, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • S. Zhao,

    1. Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment, Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • F.-T. Wang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment, Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
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  • T.-T. Zhou,

    Corresponding author
    1. Shanghai Key Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Metabolite Research, School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China
    • State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
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  • B. Liu,

    Corresponding author
    • State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
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  • J.-K. Bao

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment, Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
    • State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China
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Correspondence: T.-T. Zhou, Shanghai Key Laboratory for Pharmaceutical Metabolite Research, School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, No. 325 Guohe Road, Shanghai 200433, China. Tel/Fax: +86-28-85415171; E-mail: ting0618@tom.com; B. Liu, State Key Laboratory of Biotherapy and Cancer Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China. E-mail: liubo2400@163.com and J.-K. Bao, Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment, Ministry of Education, School of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, China. E-mail: jinkubao@126.com

Abstract

Programmed cell death (PCD), referring to apoptosis, autophagy and programmed necrosis, is proposed to be death of a cell in any pathological format, when mediated by an intracellular program. These three forms of PCD may jointly decide the fate of cells of malignant neoplasms; apoptosis and programmed necrosis invariably contribute to cell death, whereas autophagy can play either pro-survival or pro-death roles. Recent bulk of accumulating evidence has contributed to a wealth of knowledge facilitating better understanding of cancer initiation and progression with the three distinctive types of cell death. To be able to decipher PCD signalling pathways may aid development of new targeted anti-cancer therapeutic strategies. Thus in this review, we present a brief outline of apoptosis, autophagy and programmed necrosis pathways and apoptosis-related microRNA regulation, in cancer. Taken together, understanding PCD and the complex interplay between apoptosis, autophagy and programmed necrosis may ultimately allow scientists and clinicians to harness the three types of PCD for discovery of further novel drug targets, in the future cancer treatment.

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