Where do Dead Cells Go?

Each day approximately forty to fifty billion (yes billion) cells die in every human. Have you ever wondered where these dead cells go and how your body eliminates the dead cells? Try getting rid of a small dust particle from your eye. You know just how difficult it is. Every day without you realizing it, you are elimination billions of cells without breaking a sweat. A significant part of these dead cells is destroyed, worn out, and regenerated in your skin. These cells slough off and new ones made in their place. Removal of dead cells from your skin is the simpler part of this process. Many cells die inside your body. Here is where it gets interesting.

Your cell has a membrane which keeps the contents within isolated from everything outside of it. When a cell dies, the membrane layer becomes “leaky” and allows the contents outside to mingle with the contents inside. Enzymes will now begin to digest the insides of the cell. White Blood Cells (neutrophils and macrophages) which are also scavengers will eat and digest the dead cells. Collectively, these white blood cells are also known as “phagocytes.” Think of them as your garbage vans coming to collect all the unwanted cells in your body.

These garbage collectors are intelligent. If there is anything useful in the garbage, say proteins or sugars, they will all be recycled and used. Nothing is wasted. After all, we are dealing with the survival of the fittest. Ultimately what ever is not required is flushed out of your body by your kidney and liver.

So what caused cell death in the first place? The cause could be the lack of oxygen in case you were expending energy anaerobically, physical damage where you knocked your leg against a door or chemical poisoning from the food you ate or even the deodorant that you used to smell good.  Or so you thought.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.