As a basis for studies on the interaction of phagocytes and tubercle bacilli experiments were carried out to obtain information on some biochemical characteristics of exudate leucocytes from guinea pigs.
It was found that total cellular phosphorus was the most suitable measure of protoplasm. Cell counts were less reliable because of unavoidable clumping in the suspension, and dry weight measurements were less specific when contamination with erythrocytes occurred. The utility of phosphorus measurements in this connection depends upon the fact that an erythrocyte contains only 4 per cent of the phosphorus present in a leucocyte.
From measurements on mixed suspensions consisting of varying known proportions of polymorphonuclear and mononuclear leucocytes as determined by differential counting, it was possible to compute true values for these two cell types with respect to oxygen consumption and lactic acid production. Thus it was found that monocytes consumed considerably more oxygen and produced more lactate than polymorphonuclear leucocytes. From the data obtained it is suggested that differences in metabolic activity found when comparing cell suspensions obtained by the use of different irritants are due to different proportions of the two cell types.
In particular, the effects of oxygen tension and pH on the activities of the cells were studied. It was found that decreasing the proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere from that of air to 1 per cent reduced oxygen consumption by about 80 per cent, whereas lactic acid production was increased by about 45 per cent. It was also found that decreasing the pH of the medium below pH 7.5 caused a considerable reduction in the respiration, lactate production, and viability of polymorphonuclear leucocytes. The monocytes proved less sensitive to similar changes in pH, especially with regard to lactic acid production and viability.
Observations were made of oxygen consumption and lactate production during phagocytosis. During the hour following the addition of heat-killed tubercle bacilli to the phagocytes, the oxygen consumption of suspensions rich in polymorphonuclear leucocytes rose by 60 per cent, and that of suspensions rich in monocytes rose by nearly 100 per cent. Lactic acid production was unchanged during phagocytosis.