Cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) homeostasis was investigated in mouse peritoneal macrophages and in the macrophage-like cell line J774. [Ca2+]i measurements were performed in both cells in suspension and cells in monolayers loaded with either quin2 or fura-2. Resting [Ca2+]i was 110-140 and 85-120 nM for cell suspensions and monolayers, respectively. There were no significant differences in [Ca2+]i between the two macrophage populations whether quin2 or fura-2 were used as Ca2+ indicators. Addition of heat-aggregated IgG, IgG-coated erythrocyte ghosts, or a rat monoclonal antibody (2.4G2) directed against mouse Fc receptor II induced a rise in [Ca2+]i. This [Ca2+]i increase was consistently observed in J774 and peritoneal macrophage suspensions and in J774 macrophage monolayers; in contrast it was observed inconsistently in peritoneal macrophages in monolayer cultures. The increase in [Ca2+]i induced by ligation of Fc receptors was inhibited totally in macrophages in suspension and by 80% in macrophages in monolayers by a short preincubation of macrophages with PMA; however, phagocytosis itself was unaffected. The effect of reducing cytosolic Ca2+ to very low concentrations on Fc receptor-mediated phagocytosis was also investigated. By incubating macrophages with high concentrations of quin2/AM in the absence of extracellular Ca2+, or by loading EGTA into the cytoplasm, the [Ca2+]i was buffered and clamped to 1-10 nM. Despite this, the phagocytosis of IgG-coated erythrocytes proceeded normally. These observations confirm the report of Young et al. (Young, J. D., S. S. Ko, and Z. A. Cohn. 1984. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 81:5430-5434) that ligation of Fc receptors causes Ca2+ mobilization in macrophages. However, these results confirm and extend the findings of McNeil et al. (McNeil, P. L., J. A. Swanson, S. D. Wright, S. C. Silverstein, and D. L. Taylor. 1986. J. Cell Biol. 102:1586-1592) that a rise in [Ca2+]i is not required for Fc receptor-mediated phagocytosis; and they provide direct evidence that Fc receptor-mediated phagocytosis occurs normally even at exceedingly low [Ca2+]i.

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