The paper provides a review of the current state of knowledge on apoptosis during normal preimplantation development based on the literature and on the authors' own findings. Information is focused on the occurrence and the characteristics of spontaneous apoptotic processes. Reports concerning the chronology and the incidence of programmed cell death in mouse, cow, pig and human embryos in early preimplantation stages up to the blastocyst stage are summarized. In addition, specific attributes of the apoptotic process in mammalian preimplantation development are provided, including the description of both morphological and biochemical features of cell death. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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