Phagocytin and histone differ significantly in the following regards: (a) the bactericidal action of histone is rapidly lost on peptic digestion, while that of phagocytin is but little affected; (b) the lethal effect of phagocytin on coliform bacteria is much more resistant than that of histone to antagonism by spermine or by increasing ionic strength of the medium; (c) phagocytin can be extracted from disrupted granulocytes with dilute citric acid whereas effective extraction of histone requires stronger mineral acid or strong salt solution; (d) phagocytin is limited in distribution to polymorphonuclear leucocytes while histone is demonstrable in many tissues.
A new technique has been devised which permits extraction of phagocytin essentially free of lysozyme and histones. Phagocytin thus prepared kills certain Gram-positive bacteria as well as Gram-negative bacilli under appropriate in vitro test conditions. Among susceptible Gram-positive microbes are Group A streptococci and staphylococci.
Phagocytin is demonstrable in citric acid extracts of granulocytes obtained from rabbit, man, horse, and guinea pig, the only species thus far investigated. Circulating blood leucocytes as well as exudate cells contain this bactericidal substance.
The lethal effects of phagocytin on bacteria may be influenced, depending on the particular microorganism, by either pH or ionic strength of the medium.
The bactericidal action of phagocytin is only slightly reduced following digestion with trypsin, chymotrypsin or papain. The active ingredient is, however, non-dialyzable and apparently precipitated by trichloracetic acid. Data available at present are insufficient to define the chemical nature of phagocytin.