Lysosomes in cell death

Maria Eugenia Guicciardi, Marcel Leist, Gregory J. Gores

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

568 Scopus citations


For many years apoptosis research has focused on caspases and their putative role as sole executioners of programmed cell death. Accumulating information now suggests that lysosomal cathepsins are also pivotally involved in this process, especially in pathological conditions. In particular, the role of lysosomes and lysosomal enzymes in initiation and execution of the apoptotic program has become clear in several models, to the point that the existence of a 'lysosomal pathway of apoptosis' is now generally accepted. This pathway of apoptosis can be activated by death receptors, lipid mediators, and photo-damage. Lysosomal proteases can be released from the lysosomes into the cytosol, where they contribute to the apoptotic cascade upstream of mitochondria. This review focuses on the players and the molecular mechanisms involved in the lysosomal pathway of apoptosis as well as on the importance of this pathway in development and pathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2881-2890
Number of pages10
Issue number16 REV. ISS. 2
StatePublished - Apr 12 2004


  • Cathepsins
  • Spi2A
  • TNFα

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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