Macrophages respond to a variety of extracellular stimuli which can modulate the proliferation, development, activation and functional activity of these cells. The effects of two such agents, granulocytemacrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF, which stimulates proliferation) and platelet-activating factor (PAF, which stimulates chemotaxis and bactericidal activity), on cellular signal transduction mechanisms were compared. PAF can stimulate inositol lipid hydrolysis leading to Ca2+ mobilization. GM-CSF on the other hand has no effect on these events. Both agonists do, however, share an ability to activate an amiloride-sensitive Na+/H+ antiport and, furthermore, amiloride analogues are shown to inhibit the proliferative effects of GM-CSF on these cells. Long-term incubations with either PAF or GM-CSF demonstrate that it is only those cells pretreated with the latter which show a persistent activation of the antiport together with a sustained increase in intracellular pH. PAF-treated cells exhibit only a transitory increase in antiport activity, their intracellular pH levels returning to resting levels in spite of the continuous presence of the agonist in the medium. These effects of GM-CSF and PAF on Na+/H+ exchange are observed in both bicarbonate-free and bicarbonate-containing medium. These results lead us to suggest that the Na+/H+ antiport has a role in macrophage proliferation and in the regulation of intracellular pH during the oxidative burst stimulated by PAF and other agonists, and that differential mechanisms whereby this antiport is regulated exist in macrophages.

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