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Keywords:

  • cell death;
  • necroptosis;
  • tissue damage;
  • necrostatin

Abstract

  • • 
    Introduction
    • - 
      Cell death and pathophysiology
    • - 
      Apoptosis
    • - 
      Autophagy
    • - 
      Necrosis
    • - 
      Necroptosis
    • - 
      Necrostatin and inhibition of cell death
    • - 
      Necroptosis, necrostatin and RIP-1 kinase
    • - 
      Necrostatin and tissue injury
    • - 
      Necrostatin and cerebrocortical injury
    • - 
      Necrostatin and myocardial injury
    • - 
      Necrostatin and retinal injury
  • • 
    Concluding remarks

Cell death is an integral part of the life of an organism being necessary for the maintenance of organs and tissues. If, however, cell death is allowed to proceed unrestricted, tissue damage and degenerative disease may ensue. Until recently, three morphologically distinct types of cell death were recognized, apoptosis (type I), autophagy (type II) and necrosis (type III). Apoptosis is a highly regulated, genetically determined mechanism designed to dismantle cells systematically (e.g. cells that are no longer functionally viable), via protease (caspase) action, and maintain homeostasis. Autophagy is responsible for the degradation of cytoplasmic material, e.g. proteins and organelles, through autophagosome formation and subsequent proteolytic degradation by lysosomes, and is normally considered in the context of survival although it is sometimes associated with cell death. Necrosis was formerly considered to be an accidental, unregulated form of cell death resulting from excessive stress, although it has been suggested that this is an over-simplistic view as necrosis may under certain circumstances involve the mobilization of specific transduction mechanisms. Indeed, recently, an alternative death pathway, termed necroptosis, was delineated and proposed as a form of ‘programmed necrosis’. Identified with the aid of specific inhibitors called necrostatins, necroptosis shares characteristics with both necrosis and apoptosis. Necroptosis involves Fas/tumour necrosis factor-α death domain receptor activation and inhibition of receptor-interacting protein I kinase, and it has been suggested that it may contribute to the development of neurological and myocardial diseases. Significantly, necrostatin-like drugs have been mooted as possible future therapeutic agents for the treatment of degenerative conditions.