Epithelia Provoke Inflammation in Response to Apoptosis

Apoptosis is a process of programmed cell death that is traditionally considered to be immunologically silent. This means that it does not trigger an inflammatory response from the immune system. However, a new study has shown that apoptosis can actually provoke inflammation in zebrafish and cell culture when apoptotic epithelial cells cannot be expelled from the monolayer by apical extrusion. This is due to an intrinsic circuit where ATP released from apoptotic cells stimulates epithelial cells in the immediate vicinity to produce interleukin-8 (IL-8). Apical extrusion therefore prevents inappropriate epithelial inflammation by physically eliminating apoptotic cells before they can activate this pro-inflammatory circuit. This carries the implication that epithelia may be predisposed to inflammation, elicited by sporadic or induced apoptosis, if apical extrusion is compromised.

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