The origin, nature, and distribution of polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) granules were investigated by examining developing granulocytes from normal rabbit bone marrow which had been fixed in glutaraldehyde and postfixed in OsO4. Two distinct types of granules, azurophil and specific, were distinguished on the basis of their differences in size, density, and time and mode of origin. Both types are produced by the Golgi complex, but they are formed at different stages of maturation and originate from different faces of the Golgi complex. Azurophil granules are larger (∼800 mµ) and more dense. They are formed only during the progranulocyte stage and arise from the proximal or concave face of the Golgi complex by budding and subsequent aggregation of vacuoles with a dense core. Smaller (∼500 mµ), less dense specific granules are formed during the myelocyte stage; they arise from the distal or convex face of the Golgi complex by pinching-off and confluence of vesicles which have a finely granular content. Only azurophil granules are found in progranulocytes, but in mature PMN relatively few (10 to 20%) azurophils are seen and most (80 to 90%) of the granules present are of the specific type. The results indicate that inversion of the azurophil/specific granule ratio occurs during the myelocyte stage and is due to: (a) reduction of azurophil granules by multiple mitoses; (b) lack of new azurophil granule formation after the progranulocyte stage; and (c) continuing specific granule production. The findings demonstrate the existence of two distinct granule types in normal rabbit PMN and their separate origins from the Golgi complex. The implications of the observations are discussed in relationship to previous morphological and cytochemical studies on PMN granules and to such questions as the source of primary lysosomes and the concept of polarity within the Golgi complex.

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