Phagocytosis and cellular cytotoxicity by mononuclear phagocytes of blood and intestinal mucosa were studied in patients with Crohn's disease and large bowel neoplasms. Antibody coated sheep erythrocytes were used for phagocytic assays and cellular cytotoxicity in vitro was measured by 24 hour isotope release from 75Selenium methionine-labelled RPMI 4788 human cancer cell cultures in the presence of mononuclear phagocyte-enriched effector populations. The mean percent of mononuclear phagocytes in Ficoll-Hypaque purified mononuclear cell suspensions of blood of healthy controls was 25.9 compared with 44.6 in patients with Crohn's disease, 45.6 in patients with colon neoplasms and 11.6 in intestinal mucosa. Phagocytic indices were similar in all groups, but the phagocytic capacity of mucosal macrophages was twice that of blood monocytes. Mean cytotoxicity of monocytes of patients with Crohn's disease was 12.8% compared with 22.9% for monocytes from normal controls, and 29.4% for patients with colon tumours. Mean cytotoxicity by mucosal macrophages was 18.0% compared with 13.2% by mucosal lymphocyte populations. Exposure of monocytes of Crohn's disease patients to bacterial lipopolysaccharide modestly increased cytotoxicity, but exposure did not alter phagocytosis by monocytes of patients or controls. The results indicate that monocytes of patients with Crohn's disease exhibit subnormal in vitro cytotoxicity. Mucosal macrophages from patients with various diseases show enhanced phagocytosis compared with blood monocytes, and they can mediate cellular cytotoxicity in vitro.
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