AAT Bioquest

How Does Cytoplasm Work in Animal Cells?

Posted June 15, 2022


The cytoplasm in animal cells is a gel-like material that fills the area between the plasma membrane and the nuclear membrane. It surrounds the nucleus of the cell and is mostly composed of water in addition to sugars, salts, carbohydrates, amino acids, and nucleotides. Animal cell cytoplasm performs several essential functions. 

  • The highly viscous nature of the cytoplasm helps to maintain the cell structure. Without the cytoplasm, the cell membrane would collapse and the cell would be deflated and flat. 
  • The high viscosity of the cytoplasm also provides an appropriate medium for cellular organelles such as the endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi bodies, mitochondria, and ribosomes to remain suspended. These organelles have significant mass and would sink to one side of the cell without the cytoplasm to hold them in place. The high viscosity of the cytosol allows the cellular contents and organelles to remain suspended while allowing them to move around in the cell. 
  • Several metabolic processes including glycolysis, protein synthesis, and packaging molecules, takes place in the cytoplasm. 
  • The cytoplasm in animal cells also facilitates cell movement through the cytoplasmic streaming process.
Additional resources


ReadiPrep™ Mitochondrial/Cytoplasmic Fractionation Kit

Plasma Membrane