The uptake, distribution, and fate of particulate horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-anti HRP aggregates has been studied in homogeneous monolayers of mouse macrophages in vitro. Macrophages rapidly interiorize the immune complexes after binding to the cell surface. The rate of interiorization is maximal for complexes formed in a broad zone of 4-fold antibody excess to equivalence and corresponds to a rate of 10% of the administered load/106 cells per hour. This rate is 4000-fold greater than the uptake of soluble HRP. The binding and endocytosis of HRP-anti HRP by macrophages is mediated by the trypsin insensitive Fc receptor. Cytochemically, intracellular HRP is localized within membrane bound vacuoles. After uptake of HRP, the enzymatic activity is degraded exponentially with a half-life of 14–18 hr until enzyme is no longer detectable. This half-life is twice as long as that previously observed for soluble uncomplexed HRP and is related to the combination of HRP with anti-HRP rather than the absolute amounts of enzyme or antibody ingested. The half-life of HRP-125I was 30 hr. Exocytosis of cell associated enzyme or TCA precipitable counts was not detected, nor were persistent surface complexes demonstrable. The extensive capacity of macrophages to interiorize and destroy large amounts of antigen after the formation of antibody illustrates a role of this cell in the efferent limb of the immune response.

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