Cell Biology and Toxicology

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 125–131 | Cite as

Cytoplasmic vacuolization during exposure to drugs and other substances

  • Toshihiko Aki
  • Akina Nara
  • Koichi Uemura
Review Article


Cytoplasmic vacuolization upon exposure to a variety of chemicals and bioactive substances has been extensively reported. Nearly 30 years have passed since the description by Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve of the mechanism underlying the lysosomal accumulation of lipophilic weak bases referred to these substances as lysosomotropic agents. It has now been revealed, however, that vacuolization occurs upon exposure to compounds other than lipophilic weak bases. Vacuolization of organelles/vesicles other than acidic compartments has also now been reported. In this mini-review, we provide an overview of the origin, mechanism, and possible outcomes of cellular vacuolization during exposure to substances with lysosomotropic as well as other properties.


Autophagy Endocytosis ER stress Lysosome Lysosomotropicity Vacuolization 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Forensic Medicine, Graduate School of Medical and Dental SciencesTokyo Medical and Dental UniversityBunkyo-kuJapan

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