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Infect Immun. 1984 Jun;44(3):554-8.

Biochemical and functional alterations in macrophages after thermal injury.


Biochemical and functional measurements of rat pulmonary alveolar macrophages were measured 4 h after 1 10-s, 26 to 28% total body surface area, full-thickness scald burn induced under ether anesthesia. Both phagocytic activity and capacity were significantly decreased to a comparable extent, whereas microbicidal activity was increased almost twofold in macrophages from the burned animals. Concurrent with the decreased phagocytic function was a marked impairment in chemotaxis and random migration of these cells when zymosan-activated serum was used as the chemoattractant. When biochemical parameters were examined, it was demonstrated that, on a per-cell but not total-protein basis, alveolar macrophages from burned animals had elevated levels of RNA, total protein beta-glucuronidase, acid phosphatase, and 5'-nucleotidase. These results raise the possibility that the increased pneumonitis in burned individuals may be due to more complex macrophage dysfunctions than impaired microbicidal activity, as was once thought. Alternatively, the biochemical and functional changes observed may be a reflection of a new population of macrophages appearing in the lungs after thermal injury.

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