Apoptosis in ocular disease: A molecular overview

Robert W. Nickells, Donald J. Zack

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Apoptosis is a form of genetically programmed cell death that can be induced by a variety of different stimuli. It is often referred to as a form of cellular suicide. Typically, apoptosis is characterized by the condensation and shrinkage of the cellular nucleus and cytoplasm, followed by the complete fragmentation of the cell and subsequent phagocytosis of the debris by surrounding cells. Although important during development, and also for maintaining homeostasis in some adult tissues, apoptosis can also be associated with disease processes. Recent laboratory studies indicate that apoptosis is a mechanism of cell death in several important ocular diseases including glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, cataract formation, retinoblastoma, retinal ischemia, and diabetic retinopathy. This review summarizes the results of these studies and provides a brief description of some of the key molecules that are involved in the genetic regulation of apoptosis. It is possible that a complete understanding of how these molecules function may someday lead to new treatment options aimed at blocking the death of cells in a variety of ocular diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-165
Number of pages21
JournalOphthalmic genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell death
  • Genes
  • Ocular disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Ophthalmology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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