The phospholipids of rabbit alveolar macrophages were pulse-labelled with [14C]-arachidonic acid, and the subsequent release of labelled prostaglandins was measured. Resting macrophages released measurable amounts of arachidonic acid, the prostaglandins E2, D2 and F and 6-oxoprostaglandin F. Phagocytosis of zymosan increased the release of arachidonic acid and prostaglandins to 2.5 times the control value. In contrast, phagocytosis of inert latex particles had no effect on prostaglandin release. Indomethacin inhibited the release of prostaglandin, and, at high doses (20μg/ml), increased arachidonic acid release. Analysis of the cellular lipids showed that after zymosan stimulation the proportion of label was decreased in phosphatidylcholine, but not in other phospholipids or neutral lipids. Cytochalasin B, at a dose of 2μg/ml, inhibited the phagocytosis induced by zymosan but increased prostaglandin synthesis to 3.4 times the control. These data suggest that the stimulation of prostaglandin synthesis by zymosan is not dependent on phagocytosis. Exposure to zymosan also resulted in the release of the lysosomal enzyme, acid phosphatase. Furthermore, cytochalasin B augmented the zymosan-stimulated release of acid phosphatase at the same dose that stimulated prostaglandin synthesis. However, indomethacin, at a dose that completely inhibited prostaglandin synthesis, failed to block the lysosomal enzyme release. Thus despite some parallels between the release of prostaglandins and lysosomal enzymes, endogenous prostaglandins do not appear to mediate the release of lysosomal enzymes. The prostaglandins released from the macrophages may function as humoral substances affecting other cells.

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