Regulated cell death is a major mechanism to eliminate damaged, infected, or superfluous cells. Previously, apoptosis was thought to be the only regulated cell death mechanism; however, new modalities of caspase-independent regulated cell death have been identified, including necroptosis, pyroptosis, and autophagic cell death. As an understanding of the cellular mechanisms that mediate regulated cell death continues to grow, there is increasing evidence that these pathways are implicated in the pathogenesis of many pulmonary disorders. This review summarizes our understanding of regulated cell death as it pertains to the pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and pulmonary arterial hypertension.
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