Q:

How do vesicles help maintain homeostasis in a cell?

A:

Vesicles help maintain homeostasis in a cell by regulating the amount of zinc and other metallic ions incorporated within the cell, according to Dr. Thomas V. O'Halloran of Northwestern University. Metal ions such as zinc allow other ionic compounds to flow across membranes at the cellular level.

Zinc ions are stored in vesicles until the body needs them, and then vesicles fill up with zinc once the body digests the mineral. Zinc binds itself to proteins within the cell to move across membranes, and it goes into a vesicle for storage, notes O'Halloran. Similar cellular systems are in place for copper, iron and manganese.

Vesicles in neurons and glial cells within the brain serve as neurotransmitters between synapses, especially in the hippocampus. When the body suffers from zinc deprivation, learning centers and olfactory senses are affected in the brain, according to Dr. A. Takeda of the University of Shizuoka. Zinc deficiencies at the cellular level in the brain may make epilepsy patients more susceptible to epileptic seizures.

Vesicles are tiny organelles within a cell that transport chemicals within a cell when they are needed. Vesicles work closely with another storage area of a cell called the Golgi apparatus. Vesicles receive chemicals from the Golgi apparatus and drop off their cargo at a different location within the cell, notes Clermont College.

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