Does any cell have lysosomes in it? Or maybe there are other organelles that do the same function. I read about it a lot and I can't find a good answer.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, lysosomes (note spelling) exist. see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysosome $\endgroup$ – Harry Vervet Dec 12 '15 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ The very first sentence of the Wikipedia article on lysosomes: "A lysosome (derived from the Greek words lysis, meaning "to loosen", and soma, "body") is a membrane-bound cell organelle found in most animal cells (they are absent in red blood cells)." So yes, any cell except RBCs would have lysosomes, as they are essential to the function of a metabolizing cell (which RBCs are not). $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Dec 12 '15 at 23:44

The function of a lysosome is to essentially digest and break down molecules (often compared to the stomach of the cell).

For example, a cell with high proportions of lysosomes would be a macrophage, as its function is to neutralize pathogens. After the pathogen is engulfed by the macrophage, the vesicle formed, called a phagosome, fuses with a lysosome, and the lysosome's digestive enzymes work on breaking down the pathogen into harmless bits and pieces.

In most cells, however, lysosomes also function to recycle the cell's own components, called autophagy. Damaged organelles are broken down by the lysosome and recycled.

So, yes, there are many cells that do have lysosomes.

The importance of the lysosome is shown when there is a malfunction in the lysosome. These diseases, called lysosomal storage diseases, occur when the lysosome does not function properly and the cell eventually is impaired by the buildup of a molecule that should have been broken down by the lysosome (e.g. Tay-Sachs disease).


The AP Biology textbook

  • Campbell Biology 7th Edition, Chapter 6 - "Lysosomes: Digestive Compartments", although this is pretty much the same in any edition of this textbook
  • Campbell Biology in Focus, Chapter 4 - "Lysosomes: Digestive Compartments"
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome, and thank you for your answer. You may want to consider an edit to provide some references to the information in your answer. It can help to provide the person who asked the question or others reading your answer who would like to research further a starting point. $\endgroup$ – AMR Dec 13 '15 at 5:26

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