The influence of phagocytosis on the morphological and biochemical properties of macrophage hydrolase-containing granules has been studied in vitro. Following the uptake of large numbers of heat-killed bacteria, an intracellular rearrangement of hydrolytic enzymes occurred. This was associated with the solubilization of 50 to 60 per cent of the total cell content of acid phosphatase, cathepsin, lysozyme, beta glucuronidase, acid ribonuclease, and acid desoxyribonuclease and with a corresponding decrease in granule-bound enzyme. With more prolonged incubation the majority of the soluble intracellular pool of acid ribonuclease and lysozyme was lost to the extracellular medium. No change in the total content of any of the hydrolases was noted during 180 minutes of incubation in vitro.
The morphological fate of the granules was studied by a histochemical method for acid phosphatase. After the phagocytosis of yeast cell walls there was a disappearance of acid phosphatase-positive granules and an accumulation of reaction product about the ingested particle. Experiments employing macrophages which were supravitally stained with neutral red also demonstrated the loss of neutral red-positive granules and the accumulation of the dye about the yeast cell walls.
These results strongly suggest that lysis of macrophage granules occurs following phagocytosis and that a portion of the granule contents are then resegregated within the newly formed phagocytic vacuole.