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Cell death in the cardiovascular system
  1. Murray Clarke,
  2. Martin Bennett,
  3. Trevor Littlewood
  1. Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Addenbrooke’s Centre for Clinical Investigation, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr T Littlewood
    University of Cambridge, ACCI, Level 6 Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK; tdl2{at}


Cell death is important for both development and tissue homeostasis in the adult. As such, it is tightly controlled and deregulation is associated with diverse pathologies; for example, regulated cell death is involved in vessel remodelling during development or following injury, but deregulated death is implicated in pathologies such as atherosclerosis, aneurysm formation, ischaemic and dilated cardiomyopathies and infarction. We describe the mechanisms of cell death and its role in the normal physiology and various pathologies of the cardiovascular system.

  • EC, endothelial cell
  • ECM, extracellular matrix
  • MI, myocardial infarction
  • NO, nitric oxide
  • oxLDL, oxidised low-density lipoprotein
  • TNF, tumour necrosis factor
  • VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor
  • VSMC, vascular smooth muscle cell

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  • Competing interests: None declared.