General pathology

General pathology

General pathology, also called investigative pathology, experimental pathology or theoretical pathology,[citation needed] is a broad and complex scientific field which seeks to understand the mechanisms of injury to cells and tissues, as well as the body's means of responding to and repairing injury. Areas of study include cellular adaptation to injury, necrosis, inflammation, wound healing and neoplasia. It forms the foundation of pathology, the application of this knowledge to diagnose diseases in humans and animals. The term "general pathology" is also used to describe the practice of both anatomical and clinical pathology. Adaptation to injury Disease processes may be incited or exacerbated by a variety of external and internal influences, including trauma, infection, poisoning, loss of blood flow, autoimmunity, inherited or acquired genetic damage, or errors of development. One common theme in pathology is the way in which the body's responses to injury, while evolved to protect health, can also contribute in some ways to disease processes.[1] Cells and tissues may respond to injury and stress by specific mechanisms, which may vary according to the cell types and nature of the injury. In the short term, cells may activate specific genetic programs to protect their vital proteins and organelles from heat shock or hypoxia, and may activate DNA repair pathways to repair damage to chromosomes from radiation or ch micals. Hyperplasia is a long-term adaptive response of cell division and multiplication, which can increase the ability of a tissue to compensate for an injury. For example, repeated irritation to the skin can cause a protective thickening due to hyperplasia of the epidermis. Hypertrophy is an increase in the size of cells in a tissue in response to stress, an example being hypertrophy of muscle cells in the heart in response to increased resistance to blood flow as a result of narrowing of the heart's outflow valve. Metaplasia occurs when repeated damage to the cellular lining of an organ triggers its replacement by a different cell type.[1] [edit]Cell death Necrosis is the irreversible destruction of cells as a result of severe injury in a setting where the cell is unable to activate the needed metabolic pathways for survival or orderly degeneration. This is often due to external pathologic factors, such as toxins or loss of oxygen supply. Milder stresses may lead to a process called reversible cell injury, which mimics the cell swelling and vacuolization seen early in the necrotic process, but in which the cell is able to adapt and survive. In necrosis, the components of degenerating cells leak out, potentially contributing to inflammation and further damage. Apoptosis, in contrast, is a regulated, orderly degeneration of the cell which occurs in the settings of both injury and normal physiological processes.[1]