The role of lysosomes in the selective concentration of mineral elements. A microanalytical study

Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 1996 May;42(3):395-411.


The role of the lysosome during the intracellular concentration of diverse mineral elements has been evidenced by the electron probe X-ray microanalysis (EPMA). This highly sensitive technique allows an in situ chemical analysis of any chemical element with an atomic number greater than 11, present in ultra-thin tissue sections. Therefore, it has been demonstrated by using this EPMA that 21 out of the 92 elements of the periodic table, once injected in a soluble form, were selectively concentrated within lysosomes of several types of mammalian cells. Amongst these 21 elements, 15 are concentrated and precipitated in an insoluble from in association with phosphorus whereas the other 6 are precipitated in association with sulphur. Amongst the 15 elements which precipitate with phosphorus in lysosomes, there are: 3 group IIIB elements of the periodic system, (aluminium, gallium and indium); the rare-earth elements (cerium, gadolinium, lanthanum, thulium and samarium); 2 group IVA elements (hafnium and zirconium), two actinides (uranium and thorium) and elements such as chromium and niobium. The 6 elements which precipitate with sulphur comprise the 3 group VIII elements of the classification (nickel, palladium, platinum) and the 3 group IB elements (copper, silver and gold). The mechanisms responsible for this selective concentration involve enzymatic processes and predominantly acid phosphatases for elements precipitating as phosphates and arylsulfatases for elements precipitating with sulphur.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Compartmentation*
  • Electron Probe Microanalysis*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Metals / isolation & purification*
  • Metals / metabolism*
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Metals
  • Metals, Heavy