In this investigation, vacuoles containing tubular myelin proved to be digestive compartments with cytochemical reactivity for acid phosphatase and arylsulfatase. These cytochemical markers identify the secondary lysosomes, known to contain enzymes capable of hydrolyzing phospholipids like surfactant. Therefore, it appears that alveolar macrophages possess the enzymatic machinery for the degradation of the tubular myelin found in their digestive vacuoles. Although it thus appears evident that alveolar macrophages participate in the turnover of surfactant, the quantitative significance of this route of disposal is undetermined. This investigation has also established that acid hydrolases, so prominently displayed in the secondary lysosomes, are also localized in the rough endoplasmic reticulum and in Golgi-endoplasmic reticulum-lysosomes (GERL). Moreover, small vesicles which are produced from GERL serve as primary lysosomes in transporting digestive enzymes to the vacuoles.

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