Using a specific and sensitive fluorometric assay, the H2O2 release from as few as 2 X 10(5) mouse peritoneal macrophages could be detected continuously and quantitated. It is emphasized that the assay measured H2O2 release, not production. Induction of H2O2 release required sequential application of two stimuli: the administration of an activating agent to the mice from 4 days to 10 wk before all harvest, and the exposure of the cells in vitro to a triggering agent. BCG was most effective as an activating agent, resulting in peritoneal macrophages which could be triggered to release H2O2 almost as copiously (8 nmol/10(6) macrophages per 5 min) as mouse peritoneal PMN (9 NMOL/10(6) PMN per 5 min). Casein and C. parvum could also serve as activators, but thioglycollate and FCS were ineffective after single injections. PMA was a potent triggering agent, resulting in a maximal rate of H2O2 release after a latency of about 40 s for cells in suspension. Other triggering agents included the ionophore A23187, concanavalin A in the presence of cytochalasin B, and phagocytosis. H2O2 release could be attributed to macrophages and PMN in peritoneal cell suspensions or in preparations of adherent peritoneal cells, but not to lymphocytes. Indirect evidence suggested that the H2O2 detected was formed from superoxide anion. These observations appear to justify renewed interest in the idea that H2O2 may be important in macrohpage antimicrobial and antitumor mechanisms.

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