The response of rat liver lysosomes to an intraperitoneal injection of glucagon has been evaluated from studies on the mechanical fragility, osmotic sensitivity, and sedimentation properties of these subcellular particles. It has been found that about ½ hr after the injection of glucagon the hepatic lysosomes exhibit a fairly sudden increase in their sensitivity to mechanical stresses and to exposure to a decreased osmotic pressure. At the same time, their sedimentation properties undergo complex changes characterized mainly by a significant increase in the sedimentation coefficient of a considerable proportion of the total particles. In addition, glucagon causes an increase in the proportion of slowly sedimenting particles, with the result that the distribution of sedimentation coefficients within the total population tends to become bimodal. The latter change is more pronounced for acid phosphatase, less so for cathepsin D, and barely detectable for acid deoxyribonuclease. All these modifications are maximal between 45 and 90 min after injection and regress to normal within approximately 4 hr. With the exception of the increase in the slow component, for which no explanation can be advanced at the present time, they are consistent with the hypothesis that glucagon causes an increase in lysosomal size, and may be related to the autophagic-vacuole formation known to occur after glucagon administration.

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