The nomenclature of cell death: Recommendations of an ad hoc Committee of the Society of Toxicologic Pathologists

Stuart Levin, Thomas J. Bucci, Samuel M. Cohen, Andrew S. Fix, Jerry F. Hardisty, Edmund K. LeGrand, Robert R. Maronpot, Benjamin F. Trump

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

209 Scopus citations


The last several years have seen considerable confusion regarding the terms 'apoptosis' and 'necrosis' in pathology. This situation prompted the Society of Toxicologic Pathologists to charter the Committee on the Nomenclature of Cell Death, which was charged with making recommendations about the use of the terms 'apoptosis' and 'necrosis' in toxicity studies. The Committee recommends use of the term 'necrosis' to describe findings comprising dead cells in histological sections, regardless of the pathway by which the cells died. The modifiers 'apoptotic' and 'oncotic' or 'mixed apoptotic and oncotic' are recommended to specify the predominant morphological cell death pathway or pathways, when appropriate. Other standard modifiers, indicating the lesion distribution and severity, may also be used in conjunction with these. 'Individual cell necrosis' (also known as 'single cell necrosis') may be either of the apoptotic, oncotic, or mixed types. In many cases, more traditional terms such as 'coagulation necrosis' may be used to convey a meaning similar to oncotic necrosis. It is important that pathologists use terms that accurately and concisely convey the level of information appropriate to the study's needs. Furthermore, toxicologic pathologists should actively help to disseminate these recommendations to other biologists and to regulatory authorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalToxicologic Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


  • Apoptosis
  • Necrosis
  • Oncosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Cell Biology


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