During apoptosis (programmed cell death), the cell’s cytoskeleton breaks up and causes the membrane to bulge outward. These bulges may separate from the cell, taking a portion of cytoplasm with them, to become known as apoptotic bodies. Phagocytic cells eventually consume these fragments and the components are recycled (see figure).
Blebbing also has important functions in other cellular processes, including cell locomotion, cell division, and physical or chemical stresses. The types of blebs vary greatly, including variations in bleb growth rates, size, contents, and actin content.