Scientific article

Melanin granules of retinal pigment epithelium are connected with the lysosomal degradation pathway

Published inExperimental Eye Research, vol. 68, no. 2, p. 237-245
Publication date1999

Melanosomes are closely related to lysosomes and lipofuscin granules. This paper indicates the potential involvement of lysosomal degradation processes in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. RPE cells cultured on Bruch's membrane and choroid were fed with indigestible latex beads. The RPE cells from this preparation were treated with chloroquine to investigate whether membrane swelling, typical for lysosomes under this condition, can be induced in melanosomes. To investigate the fate of indigestible material associated with rod outer segments (ROS), gold-labeled ROS were injected transsclerally into the subretinal space of Long Evans rats using a 32 gauge Hamilton syringe. The degradation of labeled ROS was observed after 5 and 12 days by electron microscopy. The following results were observed. Latex particles fuse with the melanin granules of the RPE. Following chloroquine treatment, the membranes of melanin granules fused, and formed large clusters and vacuoles. Gold granules were detected inside both early stage melanosomes and mature melanin granules of the RPE cells 5 and 12 days following subretinal injection of the labeled ROS. Higher numbers of gold granules were predominantly found in immature melanosomes containing still melanofilaments and in small fused mature melanin granules. In conclusion the effect of chloroquine clearly demonstrates that the melanosomes possess active proton pumps which is typical for lysosomes. In RPE cells stressed by overload with rod outer segments or by ingestion of undegradable material (latex beads, gold particles), fusion of these phagosomes with melanosomes of different maturity is more a general rule than an exception. Therefore, melanosomes are connected to lysosomal pathways in RPE cells.

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Chloroquine/pharmacology
  • Culture Techniques
  • Gold/pharmacokinetics
  • Lysosomes/metabolism
  • Melanins/metabolism
  • Melanosomes/drug effects/metabolism
  • Microspheres
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye/drug effects/metabolism/ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment/metabolism
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
SCHRAERMEYER, U et al. Melanin granules of retinal pigment epithelium are connected with the lysosomal degradation pathway. In: Experimental Eye Research, 1999, vol. 68, n° 2, p. 237–245. doi: 10.1006/exer.1998.0596
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0014-4835

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