Caspases (also called cysteine-aspartic proteases or cysteine-dependent aspartate-directed proteases) are a group of proteolytic enzymes that play essential roles in apoptosis (programmed cell death) and inflammation. Caspases mediate apoptosis by catalyzing the proteolysis of proteins into peptides and amino acids. Twelve different caspases have been identified in humans, some of which contribute to the functioning of the immune system by affecting the maturation of lymphocytes. Failure of apoptosis is a major contributor to tumor development and some autoimmune diseases, while unwanted apoptosis occurs in ischemia and Alzheimer′s disease. Because caspases are regulated at a post-translational level, they can be rapidly activated. Therefore, an understanding of the mechanisms underlying caspase activation is of great value in the development of new disease treatments.

Sigma offers the individual caspase enzymes as well as caspase antibodies, inhibitors and substrates to aid in the study of apoptosis. inflammation, necrosis, and ischemia. Additionally, we offer kits to measure caspase activity in cell extracts and purified caspase preparations.