Necroptosis: A Novel Cell Death Modality and Its Potential Relevance for Critical Care Medicine

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Abstract

Cell death is intertwined with life in development, homeostasis, pathology, and aging. Until recently, apoptosis was the best known form of programmed cell death, whereas necrosis was for a long time considered accidental owing to physicochemical injury. However, identification of crucial signaling and execution molecules, which are highly regulated, revealed that necrosis encompasses several cell death modalities that can be therapeutically targeted. The best understood form of regulated necrosis is necroptosis, which is transduced by the kinase activities of receptor interacting protein kinase-1 and receptor interacting protein kinase-3, eventually leading to the activation of mixed lineage kinase domain-like and plasma membrane permeabilization. We are only beginning to appreciate the role of necroptosis in different pathological conditions, including critical illnesses. In this review, we discuss the molecular mechanisms of necroptosis and analyze the effect of inhibiting necroptosis in experimental models of critical illnesses. In view of the identification of an increasing number of cell death modalities, we also briefly discuss the simultaneous targeting of multiple cell death modalities because, depending on the cell type and cellular conditions, various types of cell death may contribute to the pathology.

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