Historical perspective: The seven ages of cell death research
© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media New York. All rights are reserved. Last year about 20,000 additional papers were listed in PubMed that mentioned the word apoptosis or the term programmed cell death. Searching on the same terms for publications 25 years ago yields only 42 publications. Although it has been recognised for over 150 years that death of some of an organism's cells is a normal physiological process, widespread interest in the field has only come about in recent times, once the mechanisms that implement it were elucidated and abnormalities in the physiological cell death process were linked to human disease. The stages of research into the field of cell death can be likened to the ages of man, except in this case there was an extraordinarily long infancy, and despite the current maturity of the field, it continues to rapidly grow.