Macrophages isolated from the rabbit peritoneal cavity extract radioactive colloidal gold from solutions in vitro. This reaction (ultraphagocytosis) involves two phases: the reversible adsorption of gold on the cell surface and the subsequent irreversible removal of surface-bound colloid into the cell. The latter process (called ingestion) appears to proceed at a rate which is proportional at any moment to the amount of gold attached to the cell surface; the latter in turn can be related to the concentration in extracellular fluid by a simple adsorption isotherm. In terms of rate, therefore, ingestion is related to the extracellular gold concentration in the same way that many enzyme reactions are related to the substrate concentration. Although enzyme kinetics are useful in describing rates of ultraphagocytosis, there is no evidence that enzymes participate in either adsorption or ingestion or that metabolic energy is required of the macrophage. Exudative leucocytes of the heterophilic series show little or no interaction with these finely dispersed gold sols (mean particle diameter 6 to 9 millimicrons).
37°C. three parameters are sufficient to characterize the reaction between gold and a suspension of macrophages, namely an affinity constant (1/Ks), an adsorption maximum (L), and a rate constant of ingestion (k3). Although numerical values differed markedly among cells of different exudates, all three parameters were estimated in three instances. In these suspensions between 2 and 20 per cent of the surface-bound gold was ingested each minute (37°C., pH 7.4). Under conditions of surface saturation, it was estimated that tens of thousands of gold particles were attached to the surface of an average macrophage; this amount of colloid, however, occupied less than 1 per cent of the geometric area of the cell surface. Although surface saturation imposed an upper limit on the rate of ingestion, no practical limit was noted in the capacity of macrophages to continue the reaction. Optical measurements imply that within the cell agglutination of colloidal gold began promptly after its ingestion.
These data are compared with published kinetic studies on the phagocytosis of microscopic particulates and on the parasitism of bacteria by virus.