Necrosis Vs Apoptosis

Q. Mention differences between necrosis and apoptosis.

Ans : Though both necrosis and apoptosis are events of cell death, they do differ in various ways. The differences can be observed under following parameters :

a) Cell Size
The cell is enlarged (swelling) in necrosis whereas the cell is reduced (shrinkage) in apoptosis.

b) Fate of Nucleus
In necrosis, nucleus undergoes series of changes like pyknosis ( irreversible condensation of chromatin in the nucleus of a cell ) , karyorrhexis (fragmentation of nucleus) and karyolysis (complete dissolution of the chromatin of a dying cell due to the enzymatic degradation). But, in Apoptosis, nucleus undergoes fragmentation into nucleosome size fragments

c) Plasma Membrane
The plasma membrane is disrupted and is full of leakages in case of necrosis but, it is intact in cells undergoing apoptosis. Only the orientation of lipids in plasma membrane is altered in apoptosis.

d) Cellular contents
Due to ruptured plasma membrane, cellular contents undergo digestion and may leak out of the cell in necrosis. But, the cellular contents are intact in case of apoptosis. However, they may be released in apoptotic bodies.

e) Adjacent inflammation
There is no any adjacent inflammation seen in apoptosis whereas adjacent inflammation can be seen in necrosis.

f) Physiologic or pathologic role
Apoptosis is often physiologic but necrosis is always pathologic.