Cell Swelling, Intra Cellular Accumulation and Calcification : Pharmaguideline -->

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Cell Swelling, Intra Cellular Accumulation and Calcification

Normally, it is called Hydropic changes, which refers to excessive water accumulation in the cytoplasm of a cell.

Cell Swelling

  • Normally, it is called Hydropic changes, which refers to excessive water accumulation in the cytoplasm of a cell.
  • Cell swelling is the general term used for the gross appearance of the affected organ.
  • It is called vacuolization when it occurs within the cytoplasm.


From almost all the causes of cell injury, this is the most common and earliest form of cell injury.
Cell selling may be caused by the following factors:
  • High fever
  • Poison
  • Burns
  • A hypertonic glucose solution or saline solution is administered intravenously.
  • Bacterial toxins
  • Chemical agents
  • An acute cellular swelling (Cellular oedema) is primarily caused by ATP depletion.


In healthy cells, sodium and potassium are controlled at the cell membrane level to prevent cloudy swelling. It leads to an accumulation of sodium inside the cell and the escape of potassium from the cell. Thus, rapid infiltration of water into the cell causes cellular swelling. This, in turn, leads to iso-osmotic conditions being maintained within the cell. Calcium is also inflexed into the cell.


An enlarged kidney, liver, pancreas, or heart muscle is the result of swollen cells in these organs. After swelling of the cells of the kidney, the following structure is observed:
  • Vacuolar degeneration is a condition in which the tubular epithelial cells become swollen, their cytoplasm containing small clear vacuoles, hence the term. Endoplasmic reticulum cisternae distended in these vacuoles.
  • The cytoplasm may contain small blebs.
  • There may be a pale appearance to the nucleus.
  • In the interstitial space, swollen tubular cells have compressed the microvasculature.

Intra cellular accumulation

As a result of abnormal accumulation of substance, the normal cell may suffer permanent damage or have temporary damage that is potentially harmful. Cellular phagolysosomes and nuclei are the sites of these accumulations. A reversible or permanent accumulation may occur.

Categories of accumulation:

Components of normal cell metabolism accumulated in cells include:
  • Proteins
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fats
A substance accumulated by abnormal cell metabolism:
  • Inborn error of metabolism
  • Storage disease
Pigment accumulation
  • Exogenous pigments
  • Endogenous pigments


Due to overproduction - Excess accumulation of normal endogenous on a normal or increased rate, but the rate does not allow them to be broken down adequately. Example – fatty changes in liver.

Inadequate enzymes to remove -
An abnormal deposit of exogenous substances are deposited and accumulate due to the lack of enzymes that can degrade the substances or the inability to transport them to other sites. Particles of carbon and chemical substances like silica that cannot be metabolized accumulate.

Due to inadequate metabolism - Endogenous substances accumulate when enzymes that block specific metabolic pathways prevent them from being metabolized.

Process of accumulation

The intracellular accumulation process involves four steps:
  • It is produced at a normal or increased rate, but its metabolism cannot remove it as quickly as it is produced. The re-absorption of protein droplets occurs in the kidney tubules as an example of fatty liver.
  • An accumulation of abnormal endogenous substances (based on mutated genes) caused by the failure of folding and transport of proteins and the inability to degrade abnormal proteins effectively. A liver cell may accumulate abnormal protein.
  • Due to an inherited defect in enzymes required to process the substance, an endogenous substance accumulates. Glycogen and lipid storage diseases are two examples.
  • Unavailability of enzymes and transport mechanisms to degrade and transport abnormal exogenous substances. Silicosis and anthrax are examples.


The buildup of calcium in tissues, blood vessels, or organs is referred to as calcification. The accumulation can harden and interfere with normal body functions. Blood carries calcium throughout the body. All cells contain calcium. Calcification has the effect of occurring in almost any part of the body. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in your body is found in your teeth and bones. In other tissues, such as blood, muscles, and fluids outside the body, there is another 1 percent of body fluid. Calcium can accumulate in places where it should not. Eventually, this can lead to health problems. In the case of extra calcium buildup, you may need treatment.


Many places in your body can develop calcium deposits, including:
  • Heart valves
  • Bladder, kidney, and gall bladder
  • Brain, here it is known as brain calcification
  • Knee joints and rotator cuff tendons are examples of joints and tendons
  • Soft tissues such as fats, breasts, and muscles
The buildup of calcium isn't always harmful. It is believed that the body produces these deposits as a result of inflammation, injury, or other biological processes. The calcification of certain organs and the deterioration of blood vessels can, however, disrupt their functions.


Calcification is caused by a variety of factors. They are:
  • Persistent inflammation
  • Infections
  • Hypercalcemia (excess blood calcium) is caused by calcium metabolism disorders.
  • Diseases of the skeleton and connective tissues caused by genetic or autoimmune factors
Calcium rich diets are commonly thought to cause calcifications. Despite this, researchers have not determined a link between calcium intake and calcium deposits. As with kidney stones, this is also true. Calcium oxalate is the most common component of kidney stones. The urine of people who get calcium oxalate stones contains more calcium than urine from people who do not develop them. In spite of the fact that calcium is present in many people's diets, there is a huge disparity between them.
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Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of pharmaguideline.com, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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