This paper presents 1. a summary of the morphological categorization of cell death, 2. results of two in vivo studies on the cell death induced by mild hyperthermia in rat small intestine and mouse mastocytoma, and 3. a comparison of the cell death induced by hyperthermia, radiation and cytotoxic drugs.
Two distinct forms of cell death, apoptosis and necrosis, can be recognized on morphologic grounds. Apoptosis appears to be a process of active cellular self-destruction to which a biologically meaningful role can usually be attributed, whereas necrosis is a passive degenerative phenomenon that results from irreversible cellular injury.
Light and transmission electron microscopic studies showed that lower body hyperthermia (43°C for 30 min) induced only apoptosis of intestinal epithelial cells, and of lymphocytes, plasma cells, and eosinophils. In the mastocytoma, hyperthermia (43°C for 15 min) produced widespread tumor necrosis and also enhanced apoptosis of tumor cells.
Ionizing radiation and cytotoxic drugs are also known to induce apoptosis in a variety of tissues. It is attractive to speculate that DNA damage by each agent is the common event which triggers the same process of active cellular self-destruction that characteristically effects selective cell deletion in normal tissue homeostasis.
Allan, David J. and Harmon, Brian V.
"The Morphologic Categorization of Cell Death Induced by Mild Hyperthermia and Comparison with Death Induced by Ionizing Radiation and Cytotoxic Drugs,"
Scanning Electron Microscopy: Vol. 1986
, Article 32.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/electron/vol1986/iss3/32