Necrosis vs Necroptosis vs Apoptosis: An Overview of Our White Paper

Cells die, but not all the same way or for the same reason. That’s why it’s important to select the appropriate assay for measurement and analysis.

Evolution appreciates order. Over time, our bodies have orchestrated the process of orderly and programmed cell death – apoptosis. External inflammatory forces such as pathogens cause premature unprogrammed cell death – necrosis. Meanwhile, necroptosis is the programmed form of necrosis.

Clues to the unprogrammed

Apoptosis is expected and natural. However, we are often challenged to find the cause of necrosis and necroptosis with cell viability assays. We examine in detail the most common factors of necrosis in our educational white paper.

Meanwhile, let’s briefly explore the most common causes.

Infection: Necrosis is often the result when pathogens propagate inside cells. Consequently, these pathogens, such as bacteria or a virus, infect neighboring cells.

Ischemia: Cells depend on glucose and oxygen delivered most often by blood supply. Ischemia occurs when this source is restricted.

Toxins and venoms: Bites from certain snakes or spiders can cause necrosis by inhibiting enzymes associated with cellular function in the area of the bite.

Physical trauma: An external physical force can cause either ischemia or infection that can inhibit proper cellular function.

Thermal damage: Excessive heat or cold can cause damage at the cellular level. Freezing temperatures, for example, will cause disruptive ice crystals.

Fat necrosis: Lipase is an enzyme that releases fatty acids from triglycerides. When integrated with calcium, it can damage or disintegrate cellular membranes.

Immune-mediated vascular damage: Immune responses can attract and deposit neutrophil and monocytic cells. If necrosis occurs from the immune response, the cellular debris can attract calcium salts and other minerals which contribute to discoloration of the affected tissue.

Secondary necrosis: Apoptosis can reach an overwhelming scale where phagocytosis can’t keep up. This can lead to the formation of necrosis, where it is a natural conclusion finishing off the apoptotic process.

Our white paper takes a deeper look at each of these types of necrosis, also offering common examples. We offer a comprehensive line of cell viability assays for intracellular apoptosis detection and cellular analysis. Learn more.

Cellular assays