1. An extreme and rapid degeneration which occurred in tissue cultures of leucocytes from the blood of cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits, is described in detail.
2. This degeneration was found to appear in the culture when the cells were planted in any of the culture media tried, some of which were autogenous heparin plasma, autogenous plasma, autogenous serum, Tyrode solution, and mixtures of these with embryo juice.
3. The specific cellular changes which occurred are described for the different leucocytes. In general, there was first a latent period during which no change could be observed in the cell. Following this there was a period of stimulation during which the motion of the cell was greatly accelerated. This second stage has been observed in all cells except the lymphocyte, in which it may possibly occur to a slight degree. Finally there was the terminal stage, the stage of degeneration, in which the cell rounded up, lost its motility, and either became badly swollen or else underwent a more or less complete coagulation.
4. The factor causing this degeneration was found to be exposure of the culture to light, as, for example, during microscopic examination.
5. By a reduction of the infrared part of the spectrum, it was indicated that the effect was not due to a heat coagulation of the cells.
6. This degeneration was also found to occur in the complete absence of ultra-violet wave-lengths.
7. Further, it was shown that this degeneration was caused by light which lay within each of the three wave-length zones (1) 430µµ to 550µµ; infra-red; (2) 475µµ to 630µµ; 690µµ to infra-red; (3) 600µµ to infra-red.
8. No indication was given as to whether all regions of these zones were active in causing the degeneration, or whether the active rays are limited to certain wave-length bands lying within these zones.
9. This degeneration of the leucocytes under the action of light was also found to occur upon irradiation of hanging drops of whole blood. This is interpreted as showing conclusively that the degeneration was not dependent upon the additional factors of centrifugation, continued lowering of temperature, or the presence of abnormal saline solution.
10. It was noted, however, that the leucocytes in hanging drop cultures required a markedly longer time for their degeneration under the action of light than did the leucocytes in cultures prepared from the buffy coat and inoculated in serum. This is considered as possibly due, either to injury to the cell during centrifugation and subsequent handling, or to some action of the red blood cells present in large amounts in the hanging drops of whole blood.
11. In these hanging drop cultures of whole blood degeneration of the leucocytes was also found to occur when the light reaching the culture was first freed from the larger part of its infra-red and from all of its ultra-violet.
12. It was also shown that the same degeneration was produced by wave-lengths of light lying within each of the three wave-length zones defined in Section 6 of this summary.