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The effect of chloroquine on lysosomal function and cell-coat glycoprotein transport in the absorptive cells of cultured human small-intestinal tissue


The effect of chloroquine, an inhibitor of intralysosomal catabolism, on the synthesis, transport, and degradation of cell-coat glycoproteins in absorptive cells of cultured human small-intestinal tissue was investigated by morphometrical, autoradiographical, and biochemical methods. Neither synthesis nor transport of cell-coat material was affected by the drug, but culturing of the absorptive cells in the presence of chloroquine led to a dose- and time-dependent enlargement of the dense bodies; other cell structures showed no alterations. 3H-fucose-labelled material accumulated in the dense bodies of the absorptive cells of these cultures. Since no increase of β-glucuronidase and acid phosphatase activity (both lysosomal enzymes of glycoprotein nature) was found, this accumulation of radiolabelled material can be explained as a chloroquine-mediated inhibition of the degradation of cell-coat glycoproteins. These macromolecules probably enter the lysosome-like bodies by a crinophagic mechanism, i.e., fusion of these organelles with the apical vesicles and tubules involved in intracellular transport. These findings suggest that the lysosome-like bodies have a function in the regulation of cell-coat glycoprotein transport in human intestinal absorptive cells, i.e., the degradation of excess cell-coat material.

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Correspondence to J. Blok.

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Blok, J., Mulder-Stapel, A.A., Ginsel, L.A. et al. The effect of chloroquine on lysosomal function and cell-coat glycoprotein transport in the absorptive cells of cultured human small-intestinal tissue. Cell Tissue Res. 218, 227–251 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00210340

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Key words

  • Chloroquine
  • Human enterocyte
  • Glycoprotein transport
  • Lysosomal degradation