Lysis is the breakdown of a cell in a biological process caused by an external force. The term was first used by Louis Pasteur to describe the process of cell destruction caused by bacteria. Since then, the concept of lysis has been applied to a wide variety of biological contexts, including cell death, viral infection, and the release of bioactive molecules. In this article, we discuss the various types of lysis, their mechanisms, and their applications in biomedical research.

Types of Lysis

Different types of lysis can be broadly classified into three main categories: mechanical, chemical, or biological. Mechanical lysis is caused by physical forces such as shear and pressure, and is commonly used to break up cells for downstream analysis. Chemical lysis, on the other hand, is a result of the disruption of the cell membrane due to the introduction of chemicals, such as detergents or enzymes. Biological lysis, finally, is a result of the action of specific proteins that induce membrane permeabilization and cell death.

Mechanism of Lysis

The mechanism of lysis depends on the type of lysis being employed. In mechanical lysis, physical forces such as shear and pressure are used to disrupt the cell membrane, causing it to rupture and release its contents. In chemical lysis, detergents and enzymes are used to disrupt the cell membrane and its components, leading to cell death. In biological lysis, proteins, typically enzymes, are used to induce permeabilization of the cell membrane, which eventually leads to cell death.

Applications of Lysis

Lysis has a variety of applications in biomedical research. The most common use is in cell culture studies, where mechanical or chemical lysis is used to isolate cells for further analysis. Additionally, lysis can be used to release bioactive molecules from cells, such as enzymes or intracellular proteins. Finally, lysis can be used to study viruses, as the release of viral particles from the host cell is an essential step in the replication cycle.


Lysis is a process of cell breakdown caused by external forces. Different types of lysis exist, including mechanical, chemical, and biological, with different mechanisms of action. Lysis has a variety of applications in biomedical research, and is essential for the study of viral replication and cell culture.


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Jiang, Y., & Liu, D. R. (2020). Vaccines Targeting Viral Lysis. Vaccines, 8(1), 15.

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