Effects of methylcyclodextrin on lysosomes

Michel Jadot, Fanjambolatiana Andrianaivo, Franz Dubois, Robert Wattiaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cholesterol complexing agent methyl-cyclodextrin (MCD) provides an efficient mean for the removal of cholesterol from biological membranes. In order to study the effects of this agent on the lysosomal membrane in situ, we treated HepG2 cells with MCD and studied the effects of this treatment on lysosomes in isolated fractions. We found that lysosomes prepared from treated cells are more sensitive to various membrane perturbing treatments such as: incubation of lysosomes in isotonic glucose, in hypotonic sucrose or in the presence of the lytic agent glycyl-L-phenylalanine 2-naphthylamide. The lysosomal membrane is also less resistant to increased hydrostatic pressure. Centrifugation methods were used to analyse the effect of MCD on lysosomes. Isopycnic centrifugation in sucrose density gradients demonstrates that the drug induces a reversible density increase of the lysosomes. Our study indicates that extracellularly added MCD can modify the properties of the lysosomal membrane in living cells. It suggests that MCD could be an effective tool to modulate the physical properties of lysosomes within intact cells and to monitor the cellular responses to such modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1392-1399
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2001


  • Cholesterol
  • Cyclodexmin
  • Lysosome


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