, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp 475-482

Oxygen deprivation induced cell death: An update

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Abstract

Mammalian cells have multiple responses to low or zero oxygen concentrations. In the complete absence of oxygen, cells undergo cell death through apoptosis, and not necrosis. Apoptotic signaling during oxygen deprivation occurs through the release of cytochrome c and apaf-1 mediated caspase-9 activation. The upstream regulators of cytochrome c release are the Bcl-2 family members. Pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members such as bax or bak are clearly required to initiate cytochrome c/apaf-1/caspase-9 mediated cell death during oxygen deprivation. Here we review what is currently known oxygen deprivation induced cell death and speculate about initiating mechanisms resulting in the activation of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members.