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Peroxisome: important eukaryotic cell organelle

Introduction - what they are

Eukaryotic cells have vesicles scattered throughout their cytoplasm. Some of these organelles are peroxisomes.

Main characteristics of peroxisomes:

Peroxisomes should not be confused with lysosomes, as there are differences between them. Although both have rounded shape with limits defined by cytoplasmic membrane, their origin is distinct.

Lysosomes form in the Golgi Complex. For peroxisomes, the origin is still being researched, but it seems to be a self-replication associated with the endoplasmic reticulum. If they duplicate, they should have their own genetic material, such as mitochondria. However, do not feature. More attributes:

- Carry enzymes that participate in chemical reactions in different metabolic pathways, whether animal or plant cells.

- Enzymes fall into two categories: oxidases and catalases.

- They are essential for the development of the nervous system.

The functions of peroxisomes

They participate in controlling the production of the myelin sheath, the layer of fat that covers the prolongation (axon) of neurons (nerve cells). But the main function is to transport enzymes so that they participate in the detoxification and chemical dynamics of the body.

For example, ethanol, present in alcoholic beverages, is a foreign substance to cells. A catalase enzyme contributes to ethanol being transformed into acetaldehyde, which is less harmful.

Likewise, peroxisomes promote the participation of oxidase enzymes in fatty acid degradation. In the presence of oxygen molecules (hence the term oxidase), such an enzyme acts to cause a fatty acid to turn into an energetic substrate called acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA). This compound is important in the breathing phase that occurs within the mitochondria.


When disorders associated with peroxisome functions occur, disease may arise. One of them is adrenoleukodystrophy (ADL). This disease was the subject of a 1992 film entitled Lorenzo's Oil. It tells the story of a child with severe nervous system problems for whom doctors find it difficult to find appropriate treatment.