We have investigated the effect of plasma fibronectin (Fn) on binding and phagocytosis of sheep erythrocytes (E) by human peripheral blood monocytes. Unopsonized E were not phagocytosed in the absence or presence of Fn, but Fn enhanced the phagocytosis of E bearing IgG. Sheep erythrocytes sensitized with IgM and C3b were ingested only when monocytes were exposed to Fn. The Fn enhancement of phagocytosis occurred for both fluid-phase and glass-adherent monocytes. Experiments in which Fn was washed out before mixing monocytes with opsonized E demonstrated that the Fn effect occurred because of interaction with the monocytes and not the opsonized particles. Chromatography of the Fn on Biogel A 1.5m showed that the phagocytosis-enhancing activity exactly co-chromatographed with the Fn protein. Fn did not increase the number of monocyte membrane receptors for the Fc fragment of monomeric IgG. We conclude that Fn enhances monocyte phagocytosis, not by binding to particles as a conventional opsonin, but by stimulating monocytes to ingest already opsonized particles more avidly.

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