You say lipofuscin, we say ceroid: defining autofluorescent storage material

Neurobiol Aging. 2006 Apr;27(4):576-88. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2005.12.006. Epub 2006 Feb 7.


Accumulation of intracellular autofluorescent material or "aging pigment" has been characterized as a normal aging event. Certain diseases also exhibit a similar accumulation of intracellular autofluorescent material. However, autofluorescent storage material associated with aging and disease has distinct characteristics. Lipofuscin is a common term for aging pigments, whereas ceroid is used to describe pathologically derived storage material, for example, in the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses (NCLs). NCLs are a family of neurodegenerative diseases that are characterized by an accumulation of autofluorescent storage material (ceroid) in the lysosome, which has been termed "lipofuscin-like". There have been many studies that describe this autofluorescent storage material, but what is it? Is this accumulation lipofuscin or ceroid? In this review we will try to answer the following questions: (1) What is lipofuscin and ceroid? (2) What contributes to the accumulation of this storage material in one or the other? (3) Does this material have an effect on cellular function? Studying parallels between the accumulation of lipofuscin and ceroid may provide insight into the biological relevance of these phenomena.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Ceroid / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Lipofuscin / analysis*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / genetics
  • Neuronal Ceroid-Lipofuscinoses / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Ceroid
  • Lipofuscin