Watching a human cell dying for the first time

Scientists watch for the first time a human cell explode and die on camera.   Take a look at the video…

Image credit La Trobe university



Researchers at La Trobe university, has captured for the first time the complex stages of the death of a human white blood cell, using time-lapse microscopy. This is a unique phenomenon never seen before.

Lead researchers, Dr Ivan Poon and Georgia Atkin-Smith said until now scientists had thought the breakdown of dying cells was a random process. The team’s work, published in the journal Nature Communications, has determined it is in fact highly-regulated.

Dr Poon said:

“The role of white blood cells is central to our body’s innate immune system and much like fighter jet pilots are ejected from their downed aeroplane, we have discovered certain molecules are pushed free from the dying cell, while others are left behind in the ‘wreckage’ of the cell fragments.



Proteins that are implicated in signal transfer, cell growth and maintenance all feature strongly in the beaded strings which are up to eight times longer than the host cell and that we have called ‘beaded apoptopodia.’

It could be that we’ve identified the mechanics of how dying white blood cells go about alerting neighbouring cells to the presence of disease or infection.

Alternatively, we may have discovered the transportation mechanism for a virus to infect other parts of the body. Importantly, we’ve also discovered drugs that affect this process so, once we know more, we may be able to either suppress or enhance this action.”

source La Trobe university