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Histochem J. 1997 Nov-Dec;29(11-12):857-65.

Lysosomal heterogeneity between and within cells with respect to resistance against oxidative stress.

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Department of Pathology II, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden.


The prevailing opinion on lysosomal endurance is that, as long as the cells are still alive, these organelles are generally quite stable and, thus, do not induce cell damage by leaking their numerous powerful hydrolytic enzymes to the cytosol. We suggest that this opinion is basically wrong and consider that many lysosomes are quite vulnerable, especially to oxidative stress. Moreover, we suggest that cellular degeneration, including apoptosis as well as necrosis, follows upon lysosomal disruption. We have found differing stability of lysosomal membranes to oxidative stress, not only among different cell types, but also between cells of the same type and between lysosomes of individual cells. We suggest that cellular resistance to oxidative stress is mainly a function of three parameters: (i) the capacity to degrade hydrogen peroxide before it reaches, and may diffuse into, the acidic vacuolar compartment; (ii) the resistance to reactive oxygen species of lysosomal membranes; and (iii) the intralysosomal amounts of redox-active, low molecular weight iron. Iron-catalysed intralysosomal reactions, if pronounced enough, result in peroxidation and destabilization of the lysosomal membrane. Owing to differences in the cellular synthesis of hydrogen peroxide-degrading enzymes, degree of autophagocytotic degradation of iron-containing metalloproteins, lysosomal localization within the cytoplasm and intralysosomal iron chelation, the above three parameters may vary between both different and similar cells and between lysosomes of individual cells as well, explaining their observed variability with respect to resistance against oxidative stress.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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