The influence of several metabolic inhibitors and pharmacologic agents on macrophage deformation (induced by fluid shear stress) was examined in relationship to changes in ATP content and phagocytosis of latex beads. Two relatively specific inhibitors of glycolysis (iodoacetate [IA], and sodium fluoride [NaF]) and a sulfhydryl-binding agent (N-ethylmaleimide [NEM] markedly inhibited phagocytosis and reduced cell deformability. A microtubule-disrupting agent (vinblastine) and a highly specific inhibitor of glycolysis (2-deoxyglucose) markedly inhibited phagocytosis without influencing cell deformability. An organomercurial sulfhydryl binding agent p-chloromercuribenzene (PCMBS) and a microfilament-disrupting agent (cytochalasin B) inhibited phagocytosis and increased cell deformability. The effects of these agents on phagocytosis and cell deformability bore no consistent relationship to alterations in cellular content of ATP.

The observation that 2-deoxyglucose, the most specific inhibitor of glycolysis examined, reduced ATP content to levels far lower (15 percent of control values) than those achieved by any other agent examined and inhibited phagocytosis without altering cell deformability, suggests that alterations in cell deformability induced by NaF, IA, NEM, PCMBS, and cytochalasin B are not due to inhibition of glycolysis per se, but instead result from direct or indirect effects of these agents on cell constituents, possibly contractile proteins, which are determinants of cell deformability.

The finding that cytochalasin B, NEM, PCMBS, and IA interfere with phagocytosis and alter cell deformability, together with evidence that these agents interact with isolated actin and myosin, suggests that contractile proteins are important both in phagocytosis and as determinants of cell deformability.

The observation that vinblastine, colchicines, and heavy water (D(2)O) did not alter cell deformability, even though vinblastine caused formation of intracellular crystals of microtubular protein, indicates that microtubules are not major determinants of cell deformability.

The observations that beads adhered normally to surfaces of cytochalasin B- and of PCMBS-treated cells and that shear-stress induced deformation was increased whereas phagocytosis was markedly inhibited, suggest that deformation of cells around beads associated with ingestion depends on some form of cellular (contractile?) activity, whereas deformation of cells by fluid shear stress is a passive phenomenon.

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