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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Moreover, dietary intake of LEE and especially LDEE, but not EO, proved to be beneficial in attenuating diet-induced NAFLD in rats, reducing hepatocyte hypotrophy, inflammatory infiltrate, steatosis, and lipid peroxidation in liver tissue.
In relation to the respiratory parameters obtained by means of spirometry examinations, namely the vital capacity, maximum expiratory volume per second and calculation of bronchial permeability index based on them, I noticed an increase in these volumes at the final examination, compared to the initial examination, and thus a reduction of the restrictive respiratory syndrome due to the ankylosis of the thoracic cavity joints, as well as of the hypotrophy and atrophy of main and accessory respiratory muscles, with impact on the diaphragmatic movements, were found.
The evidence linking testicular hypotrophy (testicular asymmetry) to future infertility is controversial (Robinson, Hampton, & Koo, 2010).
We hypothesize that the LSBP is associated with cardiac hypotrophy and hypofunction of the heart on the background of low body weight of a young woman.
(4,14) The presence of disability Types 1 or 2 in hands, with digital clawing and thenar/hyphothenar hypotrophy or atrophy are suggestive symptoms of PNL (Table 1).
that Kenny's problems 'can be attributed in part to other causes such as a family history of epilepsy, autism and tonsillar hypotrophy.' ...
These changes are indicative of presence of malabsorption which can cause development of hypotrophy, anemia and immunodeficient condition.
This pregnancy was often accompanied by: pregnancy-induced hypertension, urinary tract infections, anaemia, premature rupture of membranes, cervical-isthmic insufficiency and hypotrophy of the fetus and oligohydramnios [22, 23].
A daily calibration is probably warranted to accommodate other influences that may affect the EMG, such as electrode impedance (due to skin dryness, humidity), muscle hyper- or hypotrophy, and learning effects as the person with amputation becomes a more experienced user.
The primary end point of left ventricular hypotrophy occurred in 17% of the usual-control group and 11% of the tight-control group--a significant difference.
Characteristics of the patients Patient Testes volume FSH 1 Left testes normal 32 2 Bilateral hypotrophy 5.86 3 Left hypotrophy 26.6 4 Right hypotrophy 4 5 Bilateral hypotrophy 44 6 Left hypotrophy 26 7 Left hypotrophy 26 8 Normal 34 9 Bilateral hypotrophy 33 10 Normal 12.5 Histological Patient Previous history analysis 1 Right cryptorchidy Few spermatozoa + orchydotomy 2 Cryptorchidy Few spermatozoa 3 / Few spermatozoa 4 Cryptorchidy Few spermatozoa 5 Cryptorchidy Pachytene arrest 6 / Rare germ cells 7 Right benign Leydig cell tumor Few spermatids 8 Cryptorchidy Few spermatids 9 / Rare germ cells 10 / Rare germ cells FSH, follicle stimulating hormone The ten patients analyzed presented with non-obstructive infertility.