Physiology and pathophysiology of apoptosis in epithelial cells of the liver, pancreas, and intestine

Blake A. Jones, Gregory J. Gores

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


Cell death of gastrointestinal epithelial cells occurs by a process referred to as apoptosis. In this review, we succinctly define apoptosis and summarize the role of apoptosis in the physiology and pathophysiology of epithelial cells in the liver, pancreas, and small and large intestine. The physiological mediators regulating apoptosis in gastrointestinal epithelial cells, when known, are discussed. Selected pathophysiological consequences of excessive apoptosis and inhibition of apoptosis are used to illustrate the significance of apoptosis in disease processes. These examples demonstrate that excessive apoptosis may result in epithelial cell atrophy, injury, and dysfunction, whereas inhibition of apoptosis results in hyperplasia and promotes malignant transformation. The specific cellular mechanisms responsible for dysregulation of epithelial cell apoptosis during pathophysiological disturbances are emphasized. Potential future areas of physiological research regarding apoptosis in gastrointestinal epithelia are highlighted when appropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G1174-G1188
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number6 36-6
StatePublished - 1997


  • Cholestasis
  • Colon cancer
  • Pancreatitis
  • Transforming growth factor-β

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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