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|It has been suggested that Non-specific, adsorptive pinocytosis be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since July 2013.|
In cellular biology, pinocytosis is a mode of endocytosis in which small particles are brought into the cell, forming an invagination, and then suspended within small vesicles. These pinocytotic vesicles subsequently fuse with lysosomes to hydrolyze (break down) the particles. This process requires a lot of energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the chemical compound mostly used as energy in the majority of cells.
Pinocytosis is used primarily for the absorption of extracellular fluids (ECF). In contrast to phagocytosis, it generates very small amounts of ATP from the wastes of alternative substances such as lipids (fat). Unlike receptor-mediated endocytosis, pinocytosis is nonspecific in the substances that it transports. The cell takes in surrounding fluids, including all solutes present. Pinocytosis also works as phagocytosis; the only difference is that phagocytosis is specific in the substances it transports. Phagocytosis engulfs whole particles, which are later broken down by enzymes, such as cathepsins, and absorbed into the cells. Pinocytosis, on the other hand, is when the cell engulfs already-dissolved or broken-down food.
Pinocytosis is non-specific and non-absorptive. Molecule-specific endocytosis is called receptor-mediated endocytosis.
Pinocytosis is otherwise known as cell-drinking, fluid endocytosis, and bulk-phase pinocytosis.