Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Wikipedia.
Related to atrophy: dystrophy, Cerebral atrophy


(ăt`rəfē), diminution in the size of a cell, tissue, or organ from its fully developed normal size. Temporary atrophy may occur in muscles that are not used, as when a limb is encased in a plaster cast. Interference with cellular nutrition, as through starvation; diseases affecting the nerve supply of tissues, e.g., poliomyelitis and muscular dystrophy; and prolonged disuse may cause a permanent wasting away of tissue. Atrophy may also follow hypertrophyhypertrophy
, enlargement of a tissue or organ of the body resulting from an increase in the size of its cells. Such growth accompanies an increase in the functioning of the tissue. In normal physiology the growth in size of muscles (e.g.
..... Click the link for more information.



the decrease in the size of an organ or tissue of the living organism of animals and man, accompanied by a disorder or cessation of functions. Atrophy is the result of a predominance of dissimilation over the processes of assimilation.

Atrophy can be physiological and pathological, systemic and local. Physiological atrophy is a function of the growth changes of an organism (atrophy of the thymus during puberty, atrophy of the sex glands, skin, and bones in old people, and so on). General pathological atrophy (emaciation, cachexia) appears in cases of insufficient nutrition, chronic infection or intoxication, or disorders of the endocrine glands or of the central nervous system. Local pathological atrophy arises from various causes—from a disorder in the regulation of the trophic nerves (for example, atrophy of the skeletal muscles during poliomyelitis), from insufficient supply of blood (for example, atrophy of the brain cortex during atherosclerosis of the blood vessels of the brain); dysfunctional atrophy (for example, atrophy of the optic nerve after removal of an eye), as a result of pressure (for example, atrophy of the kidney in cases of embolism of the urether and accumulation of urine in the renal pelvis), from lack of use (for example, atrophy of the muscles in the extremities after long immobilization), or from the effects of physiological and chemical factors (for example, atrophy of the lymphoid tissue from the effects of solar energy, atrophy of the thyroid gland upon application of iodine preparations).

When an organ atrophies it diminishes in size but subsequently sometimes appears larger as a result of the expansion of fat tissue which replaces the atrophied cellular elements. Pathological atrophy is, up to a certain stage, a reversible process. Treatment consists of the elimination of the causes producing atrophy.


Strukov, A. I. Patologicheskaia anatomiia. Moscow, 1967.
Cameron, G. R. Pathology of the Cell. Edinburgh, 1952.



Diminution in the size of a cell, tissue, or organ that was once fully developed and of normal size.


a wasting away of an organ or part, or a failure to grow to normal size as the result of disease, faulty nutrition, etc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Cerebrospinal fluid ferritin levels of patients with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple system atrophy.
Rabinovici and Brendan Cohn-Sheehy evaluated hippocampal volume and cortical atrophy in a cohort of patients with typical and atypical dementias.
Overall, during the entire follow-up period, the authors found 372 incident cancers in the villous atrophy - positive celiac disease patients, 347 cases in the inflammation - only cohort, and 38 cancers in the latent celiac disease group.
This implies that no matter what they've been doing in space, it hasn't prevented atrophy," Baldwin says.
Allen Silverstone, of the State University of New York Upstate Medical University (Syracuse, NY), showed that both corticosteroids and dioxin pollutants cause atrophy of the thymus through very different mechanisms of action.
Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms persisted for 12 weeks before endoscopy, when variable crypt hyperplasia and villous atrophy were noted--characteristic findings in small bowel biopsies of patients with Cyclospora infection (5).
1,2] On the other hand, the histologic changes of the gastric mucosa adjacent to PGL have only recently been adequately described, in spite of the high frequency of intestinal metaplasia and atrophy and occasional dysplasia that are noted.
Their first baby, a boy named Shane, was born paralyzed, with a genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy.
DUBLIN -- Dublin - Research and Markets has announced the addition of Global Markets Direct's new report "Vaginal Atrophy (Atrophic Vaginitis) - Pipeline Review, H2 2012" to their offering.
The CE mark opens new international markets to the QB1 to benefit patients suffering from quadriceps muscle atrophy -- a weakening of the major leg muscles after ACL and total knee replacement surgery.
The October 2013 unveiling of the website coincides with the company's licensing of the gene therapy program from The Kaspar Laboratory for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
Washington, June 8 (ANI): Researchers at the University of Iowa have discovered that a waxy substance known as ursolic acid found in the apple peel reduces muscle atrophy and promotes muscle growth in mice.