Apoptosis has a lot of stereotypical morphological changes: The first is the cell shrink which shows deformation and looses contact to its neighboring cells. Its chromatin condenses and marginates at the nuclear membrane, then the cell membrane begins to show blebs and eventually these blebs separate from the dying cell and form "apoptotic bodies". The apoptotic bodies are engulfed by macrophages and thus are removed from the tissue without causing an inflammatory response. The apoptotic cells also cease to maintain phospholipid asymmetry in the cell membrane, and phosphotidylserine appears on the outer leaflet. The mitochondrial outer membrane also undergoes changes that include loss of its electrochemical gradient, and substances like cytochrome c leak into the cytoplasm. Finally, adjacent cells or macrophages phagocytose apoptotic bodies and the dying cell. Those morphological changes are consequences of [characteristic molecular and biochemical events which occur in an apoptotic cell.]
Apoptotic cells can be recognized by stereotypical morphological changes: the cell shrinks, shows deformation and looses contact to its neighbouring cells. Its chromatin condenses and marginates at the nuclear membrane, the plasma membrane is blebbing or budding, and finally the cell is fragmented into compact membrane-enclosed structures, called 'apoptotic bodies' which contain cytosol, the condensed chromatin, and organelles (Figure 2). The apoptotic bodies are engulfed by macrophages and thus are removed from the tissue without causing an inflammatory response. Those morphological changes are a consequence of characteristic molecular and biochemical events occurring in an apoptotic cell, most notably the activation of proteolytic enzymes which eventually mediate the cleavage of DNA into oligonucleosomal fragments as well as the cleavage of a multitude of specific protein substrates which usually determine the integrity and shape of the cytoplasm or organelles [Saraste, 2000].