Fluorescein-labeled human C5a and C3a were prepared and utilized to analyze the binding of C5a and C3a to human neutrophils and mononuclear cells. The fluorescein derivatives of C5a (Fl-C5a) and C3a (Fl-C3a) contained approximately one fluorescein molecule per molecule of protein. Fl-C5a retained biologic activity as determined by neutrophil O2- production, enzyme release, receptor binding, and reaction with rabbit anti-C5a antibody. Fl-C3a was biologically active as measured by contraction of guinea pig ileal strips, and maintained 87% of its antigenic character when reacted with rabbit anti-human C3a. The binding of Fl-C5a and Fl-C3a to human neutrophils and mononuclear cells was assessed with the use of flow cytometry. Fl-C5a bound to greater than 90% of neutrophils, with an average ED50 ranging from 2.8 to 6.8 nM, depending on the method of analysis. Fl-C5a binding to neutrophils was specific and was not inhibited by the presence of formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (f-MLP), C3a, or casein. Fl-C5a binding was totally blocked by an excess of C5a. C5a des arg partially inhibited the binding of Fl-C5a to neutrophils, but was 1000-fold less effective than C5a. Similar experiments with mononuclear cells showed that Fl-C5a was bound by monocytes but not by lymphocytes. Fl-C5a binding to monocytes was blocked totally by C5a but not by C3a or f-MLP. Comparative binding studies with neutrophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes showed that Fl-C5a was bound by an average of 93% +/- 4 of neutrophils, 68% +/- 9 of monocytes, and 6% +/- 3 of lymphocytes. Fl-C3a did not show significant binding to neutrophils, monocytes, or lymphocytes. These studies demonstrate that fluorescein derivatives of C5a and C3a can be prepared with retention of biologic activity, and provide a means to evaluate the binding of C5a to individual cells.

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