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lipofuscin, lipofuscin granules
Lipofuscin is the name given to fine yellow-brown pigment granules composed of lipid-containing residues of lysosomal digestion It is considered to be one of the aging or "wear-and-tear" pigments, found in the liver, kidney, heart muscle, retina, adrenals, nerve cells, and ganglion cells It is specifically arranged around the nucleus, and is a type of lipochrome


  • 1 Formation and turnover
  • 2 Relation to diseases
  • 3 Possible therapies
  • 4 Other uses
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links for general reviews

Formation and turnover

It appears to be the product of the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids and may be symptomatic of membrane damage, or damage to mitochondria and lysosomes Aside from a large lipid content, lipofuscin is known to contain sugars and metals, including mercury, aluminum, iron, copper and zinc

The accumulation of lipofuscin-like material may be the result of an imbalance between formation and disposal mechanisms:Such accumulation can be induced in rats by administering a protease inhibitor leupeptin; after a period of three months, the levels of the lipofuscin-like material return to normal, indicating the action of a significant disposal mechanism However, this result is controversial, as it is questionable if the leupeptin-induced material is true lipofuscin There exists evidence that "true lipofuscin" is not degradable in vitro; whether this holds in vivo over longer time periods is not clear

Relation to diseases

Micrograph of heart muscle showing lipofuscin pigment, H&E stain

Lipofuscin accumulation is a major risk factor implicated in macular degeneration, a degenerative disease of the eye, as well as Stargardt disease, an inherited juvenile form of macular degeneration

Abnormal accumulation of lipofuscin known as lipofuscinosis is associated with a family of neurodegenerative disorders – neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses, the most common of these is Batten disease

Pathological accumulation of lipofuscin is implicated in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, certain lysosomal diseases, acromegaly, denervation atrophy, lipid myopathy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and centronuclear myopathy Accumulation of lipofuscin in the colon is the cause of the condition melanosis coli

Possible therapies

Calorie restriction, vitamin E, and increased glutathione appear to reduce or halt the production of lipofuscin

The nootropic drug piracetam appears to significantly reduce accumulation of lipofuscin in the brain tissue of rats

Other possible treatments:

  • Centrophenoxine
  • Acetyl-L-carnitine
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • DMAE

Wet macular degeneration can be treated using selective photothermolysis where a pulsed unfocused laser predominantly heats and kills lipofuscin-rich cells, leaving untouched healthy cells to multiply and fill in the gaps The technique is also used as a skin treatment to remove tattoos, liverspots, and in general make skin appear younger This ability to selectively target lipofuscin has opened up research opportunities in the field of anti-aging medicine

A tetrahydropyridoether can remove lipofuscin from retinal pigment epithelial cells This opens up a new therapy option for the treatment of dry age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt disease, for which there is currently no treatment The drug has now been granted orphan drug designation for the treatment of Stargardt disease by the European Medicines Agency

Other uses

Lipofuscin quantification is used for age determination in various crustaceans such as lobsters and spiny lobsters Since these animals lack bony parts, they cannot be aged in the same way as bony fish, in which annual increments in the ear-bones or otoliths are commonly used Age determination of fish and shellfish is a fundamental step in generating basic biological data such as growth curves, and is needed for many stock assessment methods Several studies have indicated that quantifying the amount of lipofuscin present in the eye-stalks of various crustaceans can give an index of their age This method has not yet been widely applied in fisheries management mainly due to problems in relating lipofuscin levels in wild-caught animals with accumulation curves derived from aquarium-reared animals

See also

  • Residual body


  1. ^ a b Alberts, Daniel Albert 2012 Dorland's illustrated medical dictionary 32nd ed Philadelphia, PA:Saunders/Elsevier p 1062 ISBN 978-1-4160-6257-8 
  2. ^ "Medical Definition of LIPOFUSCIN" wwwmerriam-webstercom 
  3. ^ Young B, Lowe JS, Stevens A, Heath JW Wheater's Functional Histology:A Text and Atlas 6th ed Elsevier
  4. ^ a b c Chris Gaugler, "Lipofuscin Archived 2007-07-15 at the Wayback Machine", Stanislaus Journal of Biochemical Reviews May 1997
  5. ^ Katz, ML; Rice, LM; Gao, CL 1999 "Reversible accumulation of lipofuscin-like inclusions in the retinal pigment epithelium" Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 40:175–181 
  6. ^ Terman, Alexei; Brunk, Ulf T 1999 "Is Lipofuscin Eliminated from Cells" Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 40:2463–2464 
  7. ^ Davies, Sallyanne; Ellis, Steven 1999 "Lipofuscin Turnover" Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science 40:1887–1888 
  8. ^ Terman, A, Brunk, UT 1998 "On the degradability and exocytosis of ceroid/lipofuscin in cultured rat cardiac myocytes" Mech Ageing Dev 100 2:145–156 doi:101016/S0047-63749700129-2 PMID 9541135 CS1 maint:Multiple names:authors list link
  9. ^ Terman, A; Brunk, UT 1998 "Ceroid/lipofuscin formation in cultured human fibroblasts:the role of oxidative stress and lysosomal proteolysis" Mech Ageing Dev 104:277–291 doi:101016/s0047-63749800073-6 PMID 9818731 
  10. ^ Elleder, M; Drahota, Z; Lisá, V; Mares, V; Mandys, V; Müller, J; Palmer, DN 1995 "Tissue culture loading test with storage granules from animal models of neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinosis Batten disease:testing their lysosomal degradability by normal and Batten cells" Am J Med Genet 57:213–221 doi:101002/ajmg1320570220 PMID 7668332 
  11. ^ John Lacey, "Harvard Medical signs agreement with Merck to develop potential therapy for macular degeneration", 23-May-2006
  12. ^ Joakim Allaire; François Maltais; Pierre LeBlanc; Pierre-Michel Simard; François Whittom; Jean-François Doyon; Clermont Simard; Jean Jobin 2002 "Lipofuscin accumulation in the vastus lateralis muscle in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" Muscle and Nerve 25 3:383–389 doi:101002/mus10039 
  13. ^ Paula-Barbosa, M; et al 1991 "The effects of Piracetam on lipofuscin of the rat cerebellar and hippocampa; neurons after long-term alcohol treatment and withdrawal" Alcoholism:Clinical and Experimental Research 15:834–838 doi:101111/j1530-02771991tb00610x 
  14. ^ Roy, D; Pathak, DN; Singh, R 1983 "Effect of centrophenoxine on the antioxidative enzymes in various regions of the aging rat brain" Exp Gerontol 18 3:185–97 doi:101016/0531-55658390031-1 PMID 6416880 
  15. ^ Amenta F, Ferrante F, et al, Reduced lipofuscin accumulation in senescent rat brain by long-term acetyl-L-carnitine treatment Arch Gerontol Geriatr 1989 Sep-Oct;92:147-53
  16. ^ Huang, SZ; Luo, YJ; Wang, L; Cai, KY Jan 2005 "Effect of ginkgo biloba extract on livers in aged rats" World J Gastroenterol 11 1:132–5 doi:103748/wjgv11i1132 PMC 4205372  PMID 15609412 
  17. ^ Julien, S; Schraermeyer, U Oct 2012 "Lipofuscin can be removed from the retinal pigment epithelium of monkeys" Neurobiol Aging 33 10:2390–7 doi:101016/jneurobiolaging201112009 
  18. ^ Ingebrigt Uglem, Mark Belchier & Terje Svåsand 2005 "Age determination of European lobsters Homarus gammarus L by histological quantification of lipofuscin" Journal of Crustacean Biology 25 1:95–99 doi:101651/c-2448 JSTOR 1549930 
  19. ^ Kerry E Maxwell; Thomas R Matthews; Matt R J Sheehy; Rodney D Bertelsen; Charles D Derby 2007 "Neurolipofuscin is a measure of age in Panulirus argus, the Caribbean spiny lobster, in Florida" The Biological Bulletin 213 1:55–66 JSTOR 25066618 

20 Young B, Lowe JS, Stevens A, Heath JW Wheater's Functional Histology:A Text and Atlas 6th ed Elsevier

External links for general reviews

  • Terman A, Brunk U 2004 "Lipofuscin" Int J Biochem Cell Biol 36 8:1400–4 doi:101016/jbiocel200308009 PMID 15147719 
  • Histology at neurowustledu
  • Histology image:20301loa – Histology Learning System at Boston University
  • Destroying Lipofuscin and Destroying Cancer, FightAgingorg
  • Unfocused Pulsed Lasers Selectively Destroy Lipofuscin, AcceleratingFuturecom

lipofuscin, lipofuscin accumulation, lipofuscin autofluorescence, lipofuscin choroidal nevus, lipofuscin granules, lipofuscin histology, lipofuscin in the eye, lipofuscin pronunciation, lipofuscin skin, lipofuscin stain

Lipofuscin Information about


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