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Mech Ageing Dev. 1998 Sep 1;104(3):277-91.

Ceroid/lipofuscin formation in cultured human fibroblasts: the role of oxidative stress and lysosomal proteolysis.

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


The mechanisms involved in the accumulation of ceroid/lipofuscin within non-dividing cells are not totally understood. Oxidative stress, as well as diminished activity of lysosomal proteolytic enzymes, are known to induce ceroid/lipofuscin accumulation in a variety of cell types. In order to clarify the roles of oxidative stress and lysosomal proteolysis in ceroidogenesis/lipofuscinogenesis, and to study the fate of already formed ceroid/lipofuscin, confluent cultures of AG-1518 human fibroblasts were exposed to oxidative stress (40% ambient oxygen) and/or treated with the thiol protease inhibitor leupeptin for 2 weeks. Both oxidative stress and protease inhibition caused accumulation of ceroid/lipofuscin per se (estimated by fluorescent, confocal and electron microscopy). The combined effect of these factors was, however, almost three times as large as the sum of their isolated effects. The pigment accumulated progressively as long as the oxidative stress and/or protease inhibition acted; was not eliminated after re-establishment of normal conditions; and decreased in amount after subsequent passage. The results suggest that (i) ceroid/lipofuscin forms within secondary lysosomes due to peroxidative damage of autophagocytosed material, and (ii) it is not substantially eliminated from non-dividing cells by degradation or exocytosis.

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