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IUBMB Life. 2006 Sep;58(9):531-9.

Lysosomal labilization.

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Division of Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.


The lysosomal compartment is the place for cellular degradation of endocytosed and autophagocytosed material and a center for normal turnover of organelles as well as most long-lived proteins. Lysosomes were long considered stable structures that broke and released their many hydrolytic enzymes only following necrotic cell death. It is now realized that lysosomes instead are quite vulnerable, although in a heterogeneous way. Their exposure to a number of events, such as oxidative stress, lysosomotropic detergents and aldhydes, as well as overexpression of the p53 protein, causes time-and-dose-dependent lysosomal rupture that is followed by apoptosis or necrosis. Partial lysosomal rupture has often been found to be an early upstream event in apoptosis, while necrosis results from fulminant lysosomal rupture. Consequently, factors influencing the stability of lysosomes, for instance their content of labile and redox-active iron, seem to be essential for the survival of cells.

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