Author(s): Maltese WA, Overmeyer JH
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Abstract Apoptosis is the most widely recognized form of physiological programmed cell death. During the past three decades, various nonapoptotic forms of cell death have gained increasing attention, largely because of their potential importance in pathological processes, toxicology, and cancer therapy. A recent addition to the panoply of cell death phenotypes is methuosis. The neologism is derived from the Greek methuo (to drink to intoxication) because the hallmark of this form of cell death is displacement of the cytoplasm by large fluid-filled vacuoles derived from macropinosomes. The demise of the cell resembles many forms of necrosis, insofar as there is a loss of metabolic capacity and plasma membrane integrity, without the cell shrinkage and nuclear fragmentation associated with apoptosis. Methuosis was initially defined in glioblastoma cells after ectopic expression of activated Ras, but recent reports have described small molecules that can induce the features of methuosis in a broad spectrum of cancer cells, including those that are resistant to conventional apoptosis-inducing drugs. This review summarizes the available information about the distinguishing morphological characteristics and underlying mechanisms of methuosis. We compare and contrast methuosis with other cytopathological conditions in which accumulation of clear cytoplasmic vacuoles is a prominent feature. Finally, we highlight key questions that need to be answered to determine whether methuosis truly represents a unique form of regulated cell death. Copyright © 2014 American Society for Investigative Pathology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Am J Pathol
and referenced in Biochemistry & Pharmacology: Open Access