It has recently been suggested that a single stimulus to the membrane of the polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocyte (PMN) produces a sequential, stereotyped response involving motility, degranulation, and the oxidative metabolic burst, and conversely, that the chemotactic response is dependent upon the stimulation of the hexose monophosphate shunt (HMPS). We have used small, synthetic substances, known to cause either increased motility or the metabolic burst, to examine whether these events can be stimulated independently. Phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) is a surface active agent that causes marked stimulation of iodination, superoxide production, chemiluminescence, and the HMPS. Such stimulation by PMA did not alter random or directional motility of PMN in the chemotaxis-under-agarose assay. Also, preincubation of PMN with PMA did not deplete their energy source for chemotaxis as demonstrated by a normal chemotactic response to zymosan activated serum. N-formylmethionyl peptides (f-met-phe, f-met-leu-phe) caused a dose-related stimulation of random and directional motility of PMN, but only a very slight stimulation of the HMPS, protein iodination, superoxide production, or chemiluminescence, and this minimal response occurred at more than 1000 times the concentration needed for stimulation of motility. These results indicate that stimulation of motility in the metabolic burst may involve separate events at the membrane of the PMN and that the events are not necessarily interdependent.


This work was supported in part by a grant from the National Foundation March of Dimes and United States Public Health Service Grants A110752, HL16769, and CA12197.

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