The importance of granular (lysosomal) enzymes from neutrophils in producing the tissue damage of acute inflammation has been suggested by much indirect and some direct evidence. This study has investigated the kinetics of release and subsequent fate of granular enzymes from phagocytizing human leukocytes The following observations are made: (a) During phagocytosis, the granular enzyme lysozyme is released from leukocytes into the extracellular medium. (b) Release of lysozyme increases as phagocytic challenge increases, but attains a maximum. (c) Release of lysozyme accompanies phagocytosis and is not a delayed event. (d) The lack of release of a nongranular enzyme, lactic dehydrogenase, indicates that cell damage is not a necessary condition of enzyme release. (e) Like lysozyme, ß-glucuronidase is released from phagocytizing leukocytes. Acid α-naphthyl phosphatase and cathepsin also appear to be released, but are not found in appreciable amounts in the extracellular medium, in part because of their lability in solution. These results support the concept that extracellular release of granular enzymes may be a useful secretory function of inflammatory leukocytes which becomes damaging to the host in certain circumstances.

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