Send to

Choose Destination
Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Sep;105 Suppl 5:1261-3.

Cell size of alveolar macrophages: an interspecies comparison.

Author information

Institute for Surgical Research, University of Munich, Germany.


Alveolar macrophages (AM) play a critical role in the removal of inhaled particles or fibers from the lung. Species differences in AM size may affect the number and size range of particles/fibers that can be actually phagocytized and cleared by AM. The purpose of this study was to compare the cell size of rat, hamster, monkey, and human AM by selective flow cytometric analysis of cell volume. Resident AM from CD rats, Syrian golden hamsters, cynomolgus monkeys, and nonsmoking, healthy human volunteers were harvested by standard bronchoalveolar lavage procedures. Morphometric analysis of AM was performed using a flow cytometer that generates volume signals based on the Coulter-type measurement of electrical resistance. We found that hamster and rat AM had diameters of 13.6 +/- 0.4 microns (n = 8) and 13.1 +/- 0.2 microns (n = 12), respectively. Comparatively, the AM from monkeys (15.3 +/- 0.5 microns, n = 7) and human volunteers (21.2 +/- 0.3 microns, n = 10) were larger than those from rats and hamsters. The AM from humans were significantly larger (p < 0.05) than those from all other species studied, corresponding to a 4-fold larger cell volume of human AM (4990 +/- 174 microns 3) compared to hamster (1328 +/- 123 microns 3) and rat (1166 +/- 42 microns 3) AM. In summary, we have found marked species differences in the cell size of AM. We suggest that the number and size range of particles/fibers that can be phagocytized and cleared by AM may differ among species due to inherent or acquired species differences in AM cell size.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center