Saturday, November 15, 2008

cells have a detoxification center

Aside from having a recycling center, cells also have a detoxification center. The center is the peroxisome, another organelle found in eukaryotic cells.

Peroxisomes are so named because they use molecular oxygen for carrying out their function. Just like their cousins, the lysosomes, they can also recycle substances. For example, they breakdown fatty acid molecules into small chunks of carbon atoms resulting in the formation of acetyl CoA. Acetyl CoA is then recycled for use in biosynthetic reactions.

An important and specific function of peroxisomes however is – detoxification. If you are an alcoholic drinker for example, you can expect the peroxisomes of your liver and kidney cells to be working overtime in converting the toxic alcohol to non-toxic substances.

Peroxisomes also remove another toxic substance, hydrogen peroxide, from our system. Hydrogen peroxide is a by product of many reactions so it can readily build up in the cell. To prevent this build up, peroxisomes convert the hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.

Abnormality or malfunction of the peroxisome results in severe abnormalities in the brain, liver, and kidneys. Individuals with the abnormality immediately die soon after birth.

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