Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology | Review Article
Cell death and autophagy
Homeostatic and pathological cell death can take diverse forms that, when disrupted, can lead to diseases such as cancer and degenerative conditions. For a long time, cell death was thought to occur through apoptosis, which is a programmed event that often confers an advantage to the organism, or through necrosis induced by external factors such as trauma or infection. However, it is now clear that the biological reality is more complex. Various forms of programmed necrosis exist, including necroptosis, and cell death can also occur as a result of autophagy – a process that usually breaks down cellular components to aid cell survival during starvation. This article series highlights the progress that has been made in our understanding of different modes of cell death and autophagy and how they function as both a cell survival and cell death mechanism. Together, these articles highlight the defining features of each pathway, as well as the interplay between different cell death modalities in particular biological contexts.