apoptosis

noun

ap·​o·​pto·​sis ˌa-pəp-ˈtō-səs How to pronounce apoptosis (audio) -pə-ˈtō- How to pronounce apoptosis (audio)
plural apoptoses ˌa-pəp-ˈtō-ˌsēz How to pronounce apoptosis (audio)
-pə-ˈtō-
: a genetically directed process of cell self-destruction that is marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA, is activated either by the presence of a stimulus or removal of a suppressing agent or stimulus, is a normal physiological process eliminating DNA-damaged, superfluous, or unwanted cells, and when halted (as by gene mutation) may result in uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation

called also cell suicide, programmed cell death

apoptotic
ˌa-pəp-ˈtä-tik How to pronounce apoptosis (audio)
-pə-ˈtä-
adjective

Examples of apoptosis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ashwagandha extracts have demonstrated anti-tumor properties by inhibiting cell growth and inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 27 Aug. 2023 This causes fat cells to freeze, breaking cell walls and causing cell death (apoptosis). Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 18 Sep. 2023 There is a mechanism called apoptosis through which dangerously deranged cells are induced to commit suicide. George Johnson, Discover Magazine, 21 Oct. 2013 Other conditions can benefit from apoptosis research as well. Zoie Magri, The Conversation, 4 Oct. 2023 There is evidence that nicotine inhibits apoptosis — the process by which cells self-destruct, which is an important guard against tumour formation — in cancer cells by binding to cholinergic receptors. Anthony King, Scientific American, 13 June 2023 If enough damage builds up, the cell surrenders and undergoes programmed cell death, or apoptosis. Celia Ford, WIRED, 17 July 2023 As a result, those cells die in a process known as apoptosis. Claire Maldarelli, Popular Science, 7 May 2021 Recurrent damage within cells results in apoptosis, a rescue mechanism preventing oncogenic transformation but also triggering a cascade of events that promote aging and aging-related disorders. Salvatore Viscomi, Forbes, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'apoptosis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

New Latin, from Greek apoptōsis a falling off, from apopiptein to fall off, from apo- + piptein to fall — more at feather

First Known Use

1972, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of apoptosis was in 1972

Dictionary Entries Near apoptosis

Cite this Entry

“Apoptosis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apoptosis. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Medical Definition

apoptosis

noun
ap·​o·​pto·​sis
ˌa-pəp-ˈtō-səs, -pə-ˈtō-
plural apoptoses -ˌsēz How to pronounce apoptosis (audio)
: a genetically determined process of cell self-destruction that is marked by the fragmentation of nuclear DNA, is activated either by the presence of a stimulus or by the removal of a stimulus or suppressing agent, is a normal physiological process eliminating DNA-damaged, superfluous, or unwanted cells (as immune cells targeted against the self in the development of self-tolerance or larval cells in amphibians undergoing metamorphosis), and when halted (as by gene mutation) may result in uncontrolled cell growth and tumor formation

called also cell suicide, programmed cell death

apoptotic adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on apoptosis

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!