We found that nonlethal lysosomal enzyme release from human peripheral blood leukocytes during phagocytosis of opsonized zymosan in vitro was modified by the oxygen tension under which the cells were incubated; with decreasing Po(2), zymosan-induced release of lysosomal enzymes was potentiated. The effect on enzyme release could not be attributed secondarily to an effect on phagocytosis, because, as others have reported, Po(2) had little effect on that response. Metabolic responses that accompany phagocytosis were also modified by oxygen tension. Stimulation of oxidation by way of the pentose cycle was further enhanced by increasing Po(2). Conversely, anaerobic glycolysis was promoted by decreasing oxygen tension. ATP levels fell as a function of time and concentration of phagocytic stimulus, mirroring lysosomal enzyme release as modified by Po(2). Cyclic AMP levels fell during phagocytosis and lysosomal enzyme release, a change that could act to facilitate lysosomal enzyme release. However, the fall in nucleotide level was greatest with highest Po(2) (i.e., when lysosomal enzyme release was least). The inverse relationship between oxidative metabolism and enzyme release suggested that a product of oxidative metabolism might adversely influence enzyme release. Sulfhydryl antioxidants (Cysteine, glutathione) and scavengers of oxygen-derived reactants (superoxide dismutase, catalase, benzoate, hypoxanthine, xanthine, histidine, azide) all potentiated zymosan- stimulated enzyme release. These findings are consistent with the interpretation that one or more factors (e.g., superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, singlet oxygen), generated in association with the burst of oxidative metabolism which accompanies phagocytosis, acts to inhibit lysosomal enzyme release.

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