AAT Bioquest

What are the differences between cytosol and cytoplasm?

Posted June 16, 2022


The terms cytosol and cytoplasm are often used interchangeably. However, they are two distinctly different terms. Here’s a look at the differences between cytosol and cytoplasm. 

Basis of DifferentiationCytosolCytoplasm
DefinitionIs the liquid component of the cytoplasm surrounded by the cell membraneIs the gel-like viscous cell component that’s surrounded by the cell membrane including the liquid within organelles
CompositionComposed of water, soluble ions, large and small water-soluble proteins, and moleculeswater, nucleic acids, enzymes, and amino acids
DiversityLow diversity - consists largely of water with a few cell components suspended within itHigh diversity - consists of the cytosol and all the other cell components with the exception of the nucleus
ComponentsComponents include water, soluable small and large molecules.Components include cytosol, organelles such as mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus, lysosomes, and insoluble cytoplasmic inclusions such as calcium oxalate, lipid droplets, and glycogen. 
MetabolismAll chemical reactions take place here (for prokaryotes)Involved in large cellular metabolic activities such as glycolysis and cell division.
ActivitiesIs the site in the cell where transportation of molecules and signal transduction occurs.Is the site in the cell where cytokinesis, nuclear division, and signal transduction occurs. 
FunctionsConcentrates its dissolved molecules into the precise positions to facilitate efficient metabolismFreezes organelles in place to facilitate efficient metabolism.
Additional resources

Self-Organization of Cellular Units

Cell Structures and Organelles

ReadiPrep™ Nuclear/Cytoplasmic Fractionation Kit