Strategies for tracking anastasis, a cell survival phenomenon that reverses apoptosis

Ho Lam Tang, Ho Man Tang, J. Marie Hardwick, Ming Chiu Fung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anastasis (Greek for “rising to life”) refers to the recovery of dying cells. Before these cells recover, they have passed through important checkpoints of apoptosis, including mitochondrial fragmentation, release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytosol, activation of caspases, chromatin condensation, DNA damage, nuclear fragmentation, plasma membrane blebbing, cell shrinkage, cell surface exposure of phosphatidylserine, and formation of apoptotic bodies. Anastasis can occur when apoptotic stimuli are removed prior to death, thereby allowing dying cells to reverse apoptosis and potentially other death mechanisms. Therefore, anastasis appears to involve physiological healing processes that could also sustain damaged cells inappropriately. The functions and mechanisms of anastasis are still unclear, hampered in part by the limited tools for detecting past events after the recovery of apparently healthy cells. Strategies to detect anastasis will enable studies of the physiological mechanisms, the hazards of undead cells in disease pathology, and potential therapeutics to modulate anastasis. Here, we describe effective strategies using live cell microscopy and a mammalian caspase biosensor for identifying and tracking anastasis in mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere51964
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number96
StatePublished - Feb 16 2015


  • Anastasis
  • Apoptosis
  • Apoptotic bodies
  • Caspase
  • Cell death
  • Cell shrinkage
  • Cell suicide
  • Cellular Biology
  • Cytochrome c
  • DNA damage
  • Genetic alterations
  • Issue 96
  • Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP)
  • Programmed cell death
  • Reversal of apoptosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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