Secretory Vesicles

Introduction to Secretory Vesicles

In cell biology, a vesicle may be a structure within or outside a cell, consisting of liquid or cytoplasm enclosed by a lipid bilayer. Vesicles form naturally during the processes of exocytosis, endocytosis, and transport of materials within the cell wall. Alternatively, they'll be prepared artificially, during which case they're called liposomes. If there's just one phospholipid bilayer, they're called unilamellar liposome vesicles; else, they're called multilamellar. The membrane enclosing the vesicle is also a lamellar phase, which is similar to that of the plasma membrane. Intracellular vesicles can fuse with the plasma membrane in order to release their contents outside the cell. Vesicles also can fuse with other organelles within the cell. A vesicle released from the cell is known as an extracellular vesicle. 

In the year 2013, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was shared by James Rothman, Randy Schekman, and Thomas Südhof. For their roles in elucidating the makeup and performance of cell vesicles, especially in yeasts and in humans. This includes the information on each vesicle's parts and the way they're assembled. Vesicle dysfunction is assumed to contribute to Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, some hard-to-treat cases of epilepsy, immunological disorders, and certain neurovascular conditions. 

There are Different Types of Vesicles, They are as Follows:

  1. Secretory Vesicles: These vesicles contain the hormones that have to be transported from one cell to the other these materials include hormones or waste products. These include synaptic vesicles and the vesicles in the endocrine system.

  2. Transport Vesicles: These help to transport the molecules within the cell. Proteins are required by all the cells to perform properly. These proteins are formed in the ribosomes. After the formation, these are transported to the Golgi apparatus where they are modified and stored before transporting to the other cell organelle.

  3. Vacuoles: These are the vesicles that contain water, in the plants, these are larger in size as compared to the animals. This helps to avoid the bursting of the cell due to the osmotic pressure.

  4. Lysosomes: These contain digestive enzymes that help to break down the food molecules.

  5. Peroxisomes: To break down the toxic substances that are present in the cell these vesicles use oxygen and are commonly found in liver and kidney cells.

Secretory Vesicle Structure

A vesicle is a self-contained structure that consists of a gas or fluid. It is enclosed by an outer membrane known as the bilayers of lipids. This layer is made up of clusters of hydrophilic heads and hydrophilic tails. Vesicles are the small membrane-enclosed sacs that are involved in the storage and transport of substances from one cell to another. At least one of the lipid layers separates the spherical compartments of vesicles from the cytosol. These can break off and fuse easily since they are made of phospholipids. Due to this reason when they want to release the substances outside the cell they can fuse with the plasma membrane. In order to release or engulf the substances, these vesicles are capable of fusing with the other organelles inside the cell. 

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Secretory Vesicle Function

Secretory vesicle functions are as follows:

  • Secretory vesicles consist of the materials that have to be excreted from the cell. These materials are the toxins that are harmful to the cell hence that has to be excreted. A secretory vesicle is a vesicle that will mediate vesicular transport. 

  • These carry soluble proteins, peptides, or neurotransmitters that are regulated by the secretory pathway. These are actively transported to the subcellular domains that are selected for the extracellular delivery in response to a specific signal.

  • These vesicles in response to transportation can store and digest certain kinds of secreted molecules.

  • Thes synaptic vesicles are capable of storing the neurotransmitter and hormones and enzymes are stored in the secretory vesicles. These are used whenever necessary in order to release into the bloodstream and to make cell walls in plants, fungi, and certain kinds of bacteria.

Types of Secretory Vesicles in a Cell

There two different types, they are:

1. Synaptic Vesicles: 

These vesicles are involved in the storage of neurotransmitters and are located at the region of presynaptic terminals of a neuron. In the situation where the signal reaches the neuron end that is at the axon terminal these vesicles fuse with the cell membrane in order to release the neurotransmitter. Due to this fusion the synaptic junction forms thus the neurotransmitters cross this junction and bind to the other cell with the help of a receptor. 

Working of Synaptic Vesicles:

  • The secretory vesicles release the proteins or other molecules that are stimulated by a hormonal or nervous signal. 

  • In order to spill its contents into the target cell, the membrane of the vesicles can fuse with them.

  • The membrane of the vesicles is then added to the target cell and transfers the content.

  • This membrane formation is typically temporary until another vesicle is created in the target cell in order to release the components from the cell.

Example: The membrane at the nerve terminal of the nerve cell is triggered by impulse in order to fuse with the secretory vesicles. This leads to the formation of the synaptic cleft, it is the gap in between the nerve endings to release the neurotransmitters. The cell membrane gets fused with the vesicle to release the proteins and glycoproteins to the exterior of the cell. This process is generally known as exocytosis. Due to the fusion the area of the cell membrane increases and when the components are re-obtained by the process of endocytosis it gains its normal size. 

2. Vesicles in Endocrine Tissue: 

Some of the cells are involved in the formation of the molecules such as hormones in the endocrine tissues. These hormones are required for the other cells. These secreted hormones are stored in the secretory vesicles and whenever required these are released into the bloodstream.


The vesicles in a cell are involved in the storage and transport of the materials of a cell. The secretory vesicles play a major role in the transport of molecules outside the cell. These are necessary for the functioning of a healthy organ and tissue. These are involved in the transportation of the protein-digesting enzymes to the stomach, these are found at the end of the nerve cell and thus helps in the transport of the neurotransmitters from one nerve cell to another by activating the receptor of the other cell.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is a Secretory Vesicle and How Many Vesicles are in a Cell?

Ans: secretory vesicles are the membrane-bound sac-like structures that are involved in the transportation of the materials from one cell to another. There are six types of vesicle in a cell, they are:

  • secretory vesicles

  • Transport vesicles

  • Vacuoles

  • Lysosomes

  • Peroxisomes

2. Where are the Secretory Vesicles Located?

Ans: The secretory vesicles consist of the material that has to be excreted from the cell. These vesicles include synaptic vesicles and vesicles in endocrine tissues. Synaptic vesicles are in the storage of neurotransmitters and are located at the presynaptic terminal of the neurons.