Complement was found to stimulate markedly the ingestion of soluble antigen-antibody complexes by mouse peritoneal macrophages. This was shown indirectly by measuring the release of degradation products when the complexes were labeled with 125I, or directly when the antigen, that was human transferrin, was labeled with 59Fe. In this case, the metal which was released from human transferrin inside the cells was not excreted, and its accumulation in the macrophages was a direct index of the uptake of immune complexes. The decay of radioactivity in macrophages after ingestion of 125I-labeled complexes was similar when they were taken up with or without complement, indicating that complement acts primarily on ingestion and not on digestion or excretion. The ingestion of complexes was morphologically confirmed using fluorescein-labeled antigen in the immune complexes. The opsonic effect of complement was also observed with IgM aggregates indicating that soluble complexes can be ingested through complement receptors without involvement of Fc-receptors, as required for particulate antigen-antibody complexes.

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