Uptake of cystine was investigated in mouse peritoneal macrophages. The rates of the uptake of cystine in resident macrophages or macrophages elicited by some irritants were very low, but a drastic increase was observed when the cells were cultured in vitro. This increase was time-dependent and required protein synthesis. In macrophages elicited by thioglycollate broth, the rate of the uptake of cystine increased by about 40-fold after 16 h in culture. Contrary to the uptake of cystine, the rates of uptake of some neutral amino acids did not change markedly during culture. We characterized the induced activity of the cystine uptake in macrophages elicited by thioglycollate broth. Cystine was taken up in an Na+-independent and pH-sensitive manner, and the uptake was potently inhibited by extracellular glutamate and the analogous anionic amino acids, but not by aspartate. The activity of the glutamate uptake was also induced during the culture in a way similar to that of cystine uptake, and the uptake of glutamate was potently inhibited by cystine. From these results we concluded that the uptake of cystine and glutamate in macrophages was mostly mediated by a single transport system similar to the ones previously reported in human fibroblasts and some other cells. As a consequence of the induction of the activity of the cystine uptake, glutathione levels in macrophages doubled during culture, and a thiol compound, presumably cysteine, was released into the culture medium and accumulated there. When the macrophages were cultured hypoxically, the induction of the cystine uptake activity was markedly depressed, suggesting an involvement of oxygen in the induction.

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