programmed cell death

Science Dictionary
apoptosis   (āp'əp-tō'sĭs, āp'ə-tō'-)  Pronunciation Key 
A natural process of self-destruction in certain cells, such as epithelial cells and erythrocytes, that are genetically programmed to have a limited life span or are damaged. Apoptosis can be induced either by a stimulus, such as irradiation or toxic drugs, or by removal of a repressor agent. The cells disintegrate into membrane-bound particles that are then eliminated by phagocytosis. Also called programmed cell death.
American Heritage
Science Dictionary
programmed cell death   (prō'grāmd')  Pronunciation Key 
See apoptosis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
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