Paraffin oil containing oil red O and emulsified with lipopolysaccharide obtained from Escherichia coli was ingested rapidly by guinea pig polymorphonuclear leukocytes or human peripheral blood granulocytes and monocytes after opsonization by fresh homologous serum. The initial rate of engulfment of the particles was spectrophotometrically assayed by determination of cell-associated oil red O and reflected the opsonic activity of the serum. This activity was resistant to dialysis but labile to heat, hydrazine, and zymosan, required divalent cations, and was maximal in the presence of Ca++ and Mg++. It was associated with the fixation of [125I]C3 to the lipopolysaccharide particles. Genetically C3-deficient serum had no opsonic activity, and this activity was restored by the addition of purified C3. Normal and C4-deficient guinea pig serum and normal, C2-, and C4-deficient human sera were equally effective in opsonizing lipopolysaccharide particles and lipopolysaccharide particles sensitized with heat-inactivated lipopolysaccharide immune serum. Cord serum deficient in glycine-rich beta-glycoprotein (GBG) (properdin factor B) had diminished opsonic activity which was improved by addition of purified GBG. Thus, C3 fixation to lipopolysaccharide particles occurs by means of the properdin system, and the opsonization and ingestion of lipopolysaccharide particles constitutes a quantitative functional assay of this pathway.

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