Original communication| Volume 83, ISSUE 2, P223-229, February 1978

Mechanisms of the adjuvant effect of hemoglobin in experimental peritonitis. I. In vivo inhibition of peritoneal leukocytosis

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      Sprague-Dawley rats were injected intraperitoneally with an inoculum of living or killed E. Coli suspended in a solution with or without hemoglobin. Rat mortality rate was directly proportional to both the number of viable bacteria and the amount of hemoglobin injected, though sterile hemoglobin was innocuous. Serial bacterial colony counts, white blood cell counts, and differential stains of the peritoneal fluid revealed that (1) hemoglobin significantly inhibited the intraperitoneal influx of white cells (especially polymorphonuclear leukocytes [PMNs]) in response to an intraperitoneal bacterial challenge; (2) hemoglobin inhibited bacterial clearance from the peritoneal cavity; (3) both the rate of clearance from and the rate of PMN influx into the peritoneal cavity were inversely proportional to the hemoglobin concentration; (4) hemoglobin reversed both the process of peritoneal leukocytosis and the clearance of bacteria from the peritoneal cavity when injected 90 minutes after the bacteria; (5) the suppressive effect of hemoglobin on peritoneal leukocytosis did not depend on bacterial viability. The results strongly suggest that hemoglobin interferes with the response of PMNs to chemotactic stimuli normally produced after bacterial challenge in the peritoneal cavity. Thus the adjuvant effect of hemoglobin in experimental peritonitis appears to be based on its interference with the influx of PMNs into the peritoneal cavity in response to bacterial organisms. Thus the organisms are relieved of the principal antibacterial defense in the peritoneal cavity and are permitted uncontrolled proliferation.
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