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Endosome vs. Lysosome: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 20, 2024
Endosomes are membrane-bound vesicles for sorting cell material, while lysosomes are organelles that break down waste using enzymes.

Key Differences

Endosomes are involved in the sorting and transportation of cellular materials, playing a crucial role in endocytosis. Lysosomes, conversely, are responsible for the degradation of cellular waste and foreign particles.
Endosomes are formed from the inward budding of the plasma membrane, creating a diverse range of vesicle types. Lysosomes originate from the Golgi apparatus and are characterized by their acidic environment.
Endosomes primarily contain sorting and transport proteins, while lysosomes are filled with hydrolytic enzymes essential for breaking down various biomolecules.
Endosomes have a variable pH environment, gradually becoming more acidic, which is crucial for their sorting function. Lysosomes maintain a consistently acidic pH, which is optimal for the activity of their digestive enzymes.
Endosomes interact extensively with the cell's transport system, including the trans-Golgi network and plasma membrane. Lysosomes, meanwhile, often fuse with autophagosomes to facilitate the breakdown of cellular components.

Comparison Chart


Sorting and transportation
Degradation of waste


From plasma membrane
From Golgi apparatus


Contains sorting proteins
Contains hydrolytic enzymes

PH Environment

Variable, becomes acidic
Consistently acidic


With trans-Golgi, plasma membrane
Fuses with autophagosomes

Endosome and Lysosome Definitions


An endosome sorts cell components for recycling or degradation.
Sorting in the endosome determines the cell's protein composition.


A lysosome contains digestive enzymes.
Enzymes within the lysosome facilitate the breakdown of biomolecules.


An endosome plays a key role in endocytosis.
Endosomes are crucial for the process of endocytosis in cells.


A lysosome processes cellular waste.
Cellular waste is degraded in the lysosome.


An endosome is a vesicle for transporting cellular material.
The endosome transported the receptor back to the cell surface.


A lysosome is a cell's digestive organelle.
Lysosomes break down excess or worn-out cell parts.


An endosome helps in regulating pH within cells.
The changing pH in the endosome facilitates different cellular functions.


A lysosome maintains an acidic environment.
The acidic pH in lysosomes is crucial for their function.


An endosome traffics molecules within cells.
Molecular trafficking by the endosome is vital for cellular operations.


A lysosome plays a role in autophagy.
Autophagy is partly facilitated by the lysosomal degradation of cell components.


(biology) An endocytic vacuole through which molecules internalized during endocytosis pass en route to lysosomes


A membrane-bound organelle in the cytoplasm of most cells containing various hydrolytic enzymes that function in intracellular digestion.


(cytology) An organelle found in all types of animal cells which contains a large range of digestive enzymes capable of splitting most biological macromolecules.


An organelle found in the cytoplasm of most cells (especially in leukocytes and liver and kidney cells)


What is the pH level inside an endosome?

The pH inside an endosome varies but generally becomes more acidic.

Are lysosomes present in all cells?

Lysosomes are present in most animal cells.

What is the primary function of an endosome?

Endosomes primarily sort and transport cellular materials.

Can lysosomes release their enzymes outside the cell?

Under certain conditions, lysosomes can release enzymes externally.

How are endosomes formed?

Endosomes form from the inward budding of the plasma membrane.

How do lysosomes help in cellular digestion?

Lysosomes break down cellular waste using hydrolytic enzymes.

How do lysosomes contribute to autophagy?

Lysosomes degrade cellular components during autophagy.

What happens to receptors in endosomes?

Receptors in endosomes can be recycled or sent to lysosomes for degradation.

Can lysosomes fuse with other organelles?

Lysosomes can fuse with autophagosomes and endosomes.

What is the life cycle of a lysosome?

Lysosomes continuously form and degrade within the cell.

Are lysosomes involved in immune responses?

Yes, lysosomes play a role in degrading pathogens during immune responses.

What substances do lysosomes break down?

Lysosomes break down various biomolecules, including proteins and lipids.

What types of endosomes exist?

There are early, late, and recycling endosomes.

How do endosomes affect protein trafficking?

Endosomes direct proteins to various destinations within the cell.

What triggers lysosomal enzyme activation?

The acidic environment inside lysosomes activates their enzymes.

Do lysosomes only digest internal cell components?

No, lysosomes can also digest materials internalized from outside the cell.

Do endosomes have a role in cell signaling?

Yes, endosomes can modulate cell signaling by regulating receptor trafficking.

Are endosomes involved in disease processes?

Yes, endosome dysfunction can be implicated in various diseases.

Can endosomes become lysosomes?

Endosomes can mature into lysosomes under certain conditions.

Can endosomes store substances?

Yes, endosomes can temporarily store substances for sorting.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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