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Book and Media Reviews
November 14, 2007

Apoptosis, Cell Signaling, and Human Diseases: Molecular Mechanisms

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(18):2200-2206. doi:10.1001/jama.298.18.2203

Apoptosis (Greek apo, meaning from; ptosis, meaning falling; and thus apoptosis, leaves falling from tree) is a bioprocess by which cells deliberately commit suicide in a multicellular organism. Apoptosis, characterized by cell shrinkage, cytoconcentration, and DNA fragmentation, plays a crucial role in organism development and cellular homeostasis and, importantly, in cellular protection against cancer development. Each day approximately 70 billion cells undergo apoptosis in the human adult. This apoptotic process orchestrates a series of signaling cascade events that are tightly regulated. Excessive and insufficient apoptosis can, respectively, cause hypotrophy and uncontrolled cell proliferation as identified in cancer. Since the early 1990s, the molecular mechanisms of apoptosis have been extensively studied and our knowledge of apoptosis has dramatically increased, especially with the emergence of new technologies. However, the path toward efficiently inducing apoptosis in cancer cells still faces unexpected challenges. In Apoptosis, Cell Signaling, and Human Diseases: Molecular Mechanisms, Rakesh Srivastava and colleagues attempt to update the information on these challenges and on the molecular basis of promising cancer therapies that may accelerate our overall understanding of apoptosis and how to arrest cancer.

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