Previous work has shown that injury of neoplastic cells by cytotoxic macrophages (CM) in cell culture is accompanied by inhibition of mitochondrial respiration. We have investigated the nature of this inhibition by studying mitochondrial respiration in CM-injured leukemia L1210 cells permeabilized with digitonin. CM-induced injury affects the mitochondrial respiratory chain proper. Complex I (NADH-coenzyme Q reductase) and complex II (succinate-coenzyme Q reductase) are markedly inhibited. In addition a minor inhibition of cytochrome oxidase was found. Electron transport from alpha-glycerophosphate through the respiratory chain to oxygen is unaffected and permeabilized CM-injured L1210 cells oxidizing this substrate exhibit acceptor control. However, glycerophosphate shuttle activity was found not to occur within CM-injured or uninjured L1210 cells in culture hence, alpha-glycerophosphate is apparently unavailable for mitochondrial oxidation in the intact cell. It is concluded that the failure of respiration of intact neoplastic cells injured by CM is caused by the nearly complete inhibition of complexes I and II of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. The time courses of CM-induced electron transport inhibition and arrest of L1210 cell division are examined and the possible relationship between these phenomena is discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.