In multicellular organisms, apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death, is an important physiological response to eliminate unnecessary, excess, or harmful cells. Apoptosis occurs during embryonic development and is important in maintaining homeostasis during adulthood. Apoptosis also plays critical roles in angiogenesis and vessel regression. During these processes, activation of the apoptotic signaling pathway in endothelial cells mediates cell death. Several molecules, including growth factors and cytokines, produced by endothelial cells and other cells, regulate endothelial cell survival and apoptosis. Understanding the regulation of apoptosis is of great importance for determining the physiological role of endothelial cells and for developing novel therapeutic strategies. This review highlights the rapidly accumulating knowledge regarding endothelial cell death and provides insight into the molecular mechanisms regulating apoptosis and survival of endothelial cells.
Keywords: akt, angiogenesis, apoptosis, caspase-8, c-flip, death receptor, endothelial cell, mitochondria
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