[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 21, 1974

Lysosomes in Biology and Pathology

Author Affiliations

University of Washington School of Medicine Seattle

JAMA. 1974;227(3):331. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230160059035

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


In an elegant introductory essay to the first volume of Lysosomes in Biology and Pathology published in 1969, Christian de Duve wrote of the lysosome:

It is a concept, the result of an interaction mediated by a specific assortment of techniques between an observer and an object.... Other investigators looking at the same object with other methods, or even other biochemists exploring it with the same methods, could have arrived at different views.

This disclaimer cannot diminish the immense importance to biology of de Duve's discovery of the lysosome or, as he might put it, the discovery of de Duve's concept of the lysosome. Consider for a moment the difficulties that would be encountered in the study of man if the function, no less the existence, of the digestive tract remained unknown. That was essentially the state of knowledge with respect to the cell at the time de Duve set