What Is the Function of a Lysosome in an Animal Cell?

A lysosome is an organelle in an animal cell that contains enzymes to break down outside materials that enter the cell, as well as obsolete cell material. The lysosome acts as the digestive system for the cell, consuming proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.

In an animal cell, the lysosome acts as a basic digestive system, working to break down nutrients that enter the cell. The enzymes a lysosome contains can break down beneficial materials, bacteria and waste materials that enter the cell, allowing the body to obtain nutrients and remove unneeded materials. Without lysosomes, your body would be unable to digest food, fend off bacteria or remove dead materials from cells as they grow and are replaced.

Lysosomes are the organelles responsible for helping the body digest nutrients, but they also assist with fighting off disease, removing waste, and eliminating unneeded cell materials. The enzymes contained within the organelle are extremely strong and can kill the host if they are released, so in most animals, the body develops lysosomes to allow them to digest material in a controlled environment. If lysosomes are mutated or fail to develop, the body can develop serious illnesses that can be difficult to treat and manage successfully.