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Return of a substance to solution, as of phosphate removed from seawater by plankton and returned when these organisms die and decay.
Self-digestion by body cells following somatic or organ death or ischemic injury.



self-digestion of animal, plant, and microorganism tissue. In autolysis the cellular proteins, carbohydrates, and fats break down under the action of hydrolytic enzymes in the cells. In living organisms, autolysis is evident in necrotic centers and in cells of malignant neoplasms. Autolysis occurs in decomposing corpses. In plants autolysis occurs after the death of living cells as a result of low temperature, desiccation, and the action of such poisonous substances as chloroform and toluene, as well as during mechanical tissue disintegration. Autolysis of microbe cells is evident in aging microbe cultures and in microorganisms damaged by physical, chemical, or biological agents. Autolysis also occurs in several industrial processes—for example, in tobacco and tea fermentation and during feed storage.