The method using lucigenin-dependent phagocytic chemiluminescence is described for the assessment of alveolar macrophage metabolic activity in response to stimulation by opsonised particles or soluble agents. The requirement for superoxide anion (O2-) in the production of chemiluminescence is suggested by inhibition (95%) using superoxide dismutase. The results obtained are correlated with those obtained using another method of detecting O2- release (r = 0.61; p less than 0.05) and are also related by regression analysis to polymorphonuclear leucocyte contamination of the alveolar macrophage suspension. This shows that alveolar macrophages produce lucigenin-dependent chemiluminescence of the same order of magnitude as do polymorphonuclear leucocytes.
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