Atrophy is a reduction in the size of an organ/tissue. Microscopically this is a reduction in cell size/volume caused by a reduction in protein synthesis and/or increased protein degradation 1.
Atrophy may be physiologic or pathological.
Physiological atrophy is commonly seen in the normal development of embryological structures (e.g. notochord) 1 or the female pelvic organs postmenopause.
Pathological atrophy can have many causes, including:
- inadequate nutrition
- reduced workload/usage, such as the reduction of skeletal muscle volume with disuse post fracture
- denervation leading to skeletal muscle atrophy
- decreased endocrine/neuroendocrine stimulation
- ischemia/reduction of blood supply 1
- 1. Vinay Kumar, Abul K. Abbas, Jon C. Aster. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. (2014) ISBN: 9780323266161