Open questions on apoptosis in cardiac biology

  • Heribert Schunkert
Part of the Basic Science for the Cardiologist book series (BASC, volume 5)


As summarized in this volume, most if not all cardiac cell types entertain the complex machinery of programmed cell death. Specifically, histochemical and molecular studies document beyond any doubt that cardiac myocytes, endothelial as well as vascular smooth muscle cells may undergo apoptosis. Moreover, death receptors, pro- and antiapoptotic factors as well as enzymatic cascades that -if activated-result in digestion of critical cellular structures have been localized to these cells. The stimuli that force cardiac cells into programmed death are also well characterized and include ischemia and/or reoxygenation, pressure overload or extensive stretching, or, finally, excessive stimulation with neurohormones or free radicals, just to name a few. While we are just at the beginning to understand these phenomena, a series of new questions emerges that asks for the appropriate integration of apoptosis in the pathophysiology of cardiac disease.


Cardiac Myocytes Cardiac Fibroblast Myocyte Apoptosis Myocyte Death Myocyte Loss 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heribert Schunkert
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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