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Secretory Vesicle
Eukaryotic Cell

Secretory Vesicle

Vesicula secretoria

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Quick Facts

A secretory vesicle is membrane-bound vesicles derived from the trans-Golgi network that contain secretory products for delivery to the plasma membrane and subsequent release from the cell (Dorland, 2011).

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Structure and/or Key Feature(s)

Proteins that pass through the Golgi complex are sorted, modified, and then repackaged into a secretory vesicle. The secretory vesicle then passes to the plasmalemma. The secretory vesicle itself fuses with the plasmalemma and releases the secretory product. That process is called exocytosis.

Secretory vesicles are only visible with the light microscope when large amounts of proteins are stored in large secretory vesicles (e.g., pancreatic acinar cells) and then only released by exocytosis after appropriate stimulation.

Secretory vesicles that contain digestive enzymes are named zymogen granules (Ross and Pawlina, 2006).

Anatomical Relations

Secretory vesicles are located near the “trans” surface of the Golgi Complex and the plasmalemma (Ross and Pawlina, 2006).


The secretory vesicle contains materials produced by the endoplasmic reticulum but then sorted and packaged by the Golgi complex. The secretory vesicle releases the secretory product via a process called exocytosis (Ross and Pawlina, 2006).


Dorland, W. (2011) Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 32nd edn. Philadelphia, USA: Elsevier Saunders.

Ross, M. H. and Pawlina, W. (2006) Histology: A text and atlas. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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