Alveolar macrophages are the initial phagocytic cells that encounter foreign material and particulates deposited in the terminal airways. We have examined a mechanism by which these cells, after phagocytic challenge, may control or amplify the inflammatory response in lung parenchyma. Normal human alveolar macrophages (AM) were studied from eight subjects. With in vitro culture, AM produced and released two substances into culture media which have potent chemoattractant activity for blood polymorphonuclear granulocytes (PMN) and negligible activity for mononuclear cells. Release of these factors is maximally stimulated by aggregated human immunoglobulin (Ig)G or zymosan particles; however, simple adhesion of the macrophages to plastic surfaces is also sufficient to stimulate release of these chemotactic substances. The larger substance (10,000 daltons) is immunologically distinct from C5a and interacts with a different PMN membrane receptor than that known to exist for formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine. Its chemotactic activity is sensitive to the enzymatic effect of trypsin. Although producing a single elution peak on gelfiltration chromatography, electrofocusing in polyacrylamide gels yielded five peaks of radioactivity. Chemotactic activity was localized to a fraction with a pI = 5.0. The smaller molecular weight substance has been less well characterized. Thus, the human AM can produce at least two factors which attract PMN and this capability may augment the local inflammatory response in the lung.
W W Merrill, G P Naegel, R A Matthay, H Y Reynolds