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(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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Diminution in the size of a cell, tissue, or organ that was once fully developed and of normal size.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a wasting away of an organ or part, or a failure to grow to normal size as the result of disease, faulty nutrition, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
la, 2a, 3c, and 4a in the order of PMMA, PEMA, PPMA, and PBMA, respectively.
Yasin Malik said that PPMA members are taking minor matters seriously which is very harmful for the integrity of the association and we should resolve our problems through mutual consultations by holding meetings instead of turning irate over minor issues.
Ted Rake, president of the PPMA, kindly rolled the track with his Super A Farmall and homemade roller.
ii) Manufacturing licence be issued after recommendation of inspection team which must have three technical members from PPMA in addition to the present setup of ministry of health.
Zahid Saeed said that the PPMA had held an emergency conference via video link with its representatives at all the stations to make sure that essential medicines remained available in the country following air space violation by India on February 26 causing escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan.
PPMA says the step is taken under government pressure
The PPMA chairman said on the occasion that increase in prices of medicines had been ordered following all the due procedures, formalities, regulatory framework, and in accordance with the latest Drug Pricing Policy of the government.
Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences Dr Farzana Chaudhry, Dr Imtiaz Rabbani and UVAS faculty members and officials from PPMA were present on the occasion.
President PPMA Zakaria Usman commented, 'It was thrilling to see such enthusiastic participation from all key players of the industry and the general masses.
The seminar was organized by the PPMA with the backdrop that annual exports of Pakistani pharmaceutical companies had dropped to alarming level of 200 million US Dollars.
'Discussions are on-going among members of PPMA in resolving the ambiguity of the rules as to the manner of distributing the incentives,' Raquelsantos said.
This mega-event was orchestrated by the Pakistan Plastic Manufacturers Association (PPMA) and has received an overwhelming response from more than 65 local and international exhibitors.