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Immunology. 1986 May;58(1):117-24.

Activation of human polymorphonuclear leucocytes by particulate zymosan is related to both its major carbohydrate components: glucan and mannan.


Unopsonized particulate zymosan and its major carbohydrate component glucan were phagocytosed under serum-free conditions by adherent polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMN) in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Preincubation of PMN monolayers with mannan did not cause a reduction in the phagocytosis of either particle. The phagocytic response was inhibited by preincubation of the cells with trypsin at a concentration that did not inhibit the phagocytosis of sheep erythrocytes coated with IgG or of latex particles. Homology of the recognition mechanisms for glucan and zymosan was confirmed when cells cultured on fixed glucan or on fixed zymosan failed to ingest either particle to more than 40% of control phagocytosis. Similarly, zymosan and glucan activated PMN in suspension, in a dose- and time-dependent manner, to generate reactive oxygen species which were measured as luminol-dependent chemiluminescence (CL). There was, however, a four-fold greater CL response to zymosan. Preincubation of PMN with mannan resulted in a significantly decreased CL response to zymosan, while the response to glucan was unaffected. The CL response was also sensitive to a range of concentrations of trypsin. In contrast, two other complex polysaccharide particles (barley-derived beta-glucan and algae-derived laminarin) were not phagocytosed by PMN, nor did they cause the generation of CL, despite the fact that they possessed the capacity, in common with zymosan and glucan, to activate the alternative pathway of complement. The identification of a trypsin-sensitive recognition mechanism on the surface of human PMN for unopsonized zymosan and glucan represents a response not hitherto characterized. Furthermore, our data indicate that the phagocytosis of unopsonized zymosan by human PMN is dependent primarily on its glucan content, but that its capacity to activate the respiratory burst may involve mannan and the recruitment of a second cell surface recognition mechanism.

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