Stimulated neutrophils show ionic fluxes that may function as “transducers” between stimuli and effector functions. Using fluorescent probes, patterns of membrane-associated calcium (chlortetracycline, CTC) and membrane potential (3–3′-dipentyloxacarbocyanine, di-O-C5 (3)) in single living human neutrophils were observed with a fluorescence microscope fitted with an image intensifier and photometer. Fluorescence changes were related to chemiluminescence. In unstimulated neutrophils, CTC and di-O-C5 (3) fluorescence was brightest in the perinuclear region. Di-O-C5 (3) fluorescence was also seen in mitochondria. Neutrophil stimulation with zymosan, phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) or calcium ionophore (A23187) resulted in loss of di-O-C5 (3) and CTC fluorescence and chemiluminescence proportional to the strength of the stimulus. Experiments demonstrated the independence of these processes. (1) Digitonin stimulation caused chemiluminescence and di-O-C5 (3) darkening without loss of CTC fluorescence. (2) Depolarization of neutrophils did not induce CTC darkening or chemiluminescence. (3) Calcium ionophore (A23187) stimulation of neutrophils in calcium-free medium resulted in normal di-O-C5 (3) and CTC darkening, but a blunted chemiluminescence peak. (4) Calcium ionophore (A23187) stimulated the loss of di-O-C5 (3) and CTC fluorescence from chronic granulomatous disease neutrophils, but did not trigger an oxidative burst. Although neutrophil depolarization, calcium release from membranes, and oxidative activity are linked, these processes can clearly be separated.

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