The functional capacities of granulocytes in patients with chronic granulocytic leukemia are still a subject of controversy, probably due to the heterogeneity of the abnormalities observed from patient to patient. For a better definition of these abnormalities, 14 patients with untreated chronic granulocytic leukemia were studied. The patients were divided into three groups on the basis of the functional activities of their phagocytosing granulocytes. In four patients (group I), the granulocytes were normal in respect to particle ingestion, nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT)-stimulated reduction, cyanide-insensitive oxygen (O2) consumption, superoxide anion (O2-)-stimulated production, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production, and iodination. They also had a normal myeloperoxidase (MPO) content. In four patients (group III), the granulocytes were significantly defective in all of these activities. In the six remaining patients (group II), all the initial metabolic steps of the phagocytosing granulocytes (ingestion, NBT reduction, O2 consumption, O2-production, H2O2 production) were normal, as were the MPO content of the granulocytes, while iodination was strikingly decreased. These metabolic features suggested a degranulation defect which was observed ultrastructurally in the only patient studied among these six. The phagocytosing granulocytes of this patient did not degranulate and no deposits of MPO activity were seen in the phagosomes.

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