Differentiation of monocytes. Origin, nature, and fate of their azurophil granules.


The origin, content, and fate of azurophil granules of blood monocytes were investigated in several species (rabbit, guinea pig, human) by electron microscopy and cytochemistry. The life cycle of monocytes consists of maturation in bone marrow, transit in blood, and migration into tissues where they function as macrophages. Cells were examined from all three phases. It was found that: azurophil granules originate in the Golgi complex of the developing monocyte of bone marrow and blood, and ultimately fuse with phagosomes during phagocytosis upon arrival of monocytes in the tissues. They contain lysosomal enzymes in all species studied and peroxidase in the guinea pig and human. These enzymes are produced by the same pathway as other secretory products (i.e., they are segregated in the rough ER and packaged into granules in the Golgi complex). The findings demonstrate that the azurophil granules of monocytes are primary lysosomes or storage granules comparable to the azurophils of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and the specific granules of eosinophils. Macrophages from peritoneal exudates (72-96 hr after endotoxin injection) contain large quantities of lysosomal enzymes throughout the secretory apparatus (rough ER and Golgi complex), in digestive vacuoles, and in numerous coated vesicles; however, they lack forming or mature azurophil granules. Hence it appears that the monocyte produces two types of primary lysosomes during different phases of its life cycle-azurophil granules made by developing monocytes in bone marrow or blood, and coated vesicles made by macrophages in tissues and body cavities.

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@article{Nichols1971DifferentiationOM, title={Differentiation of monocytes. Origin, nature, and fate of their azurophil granules.}, author={Barbara A. Nichols and Dorothy Ford Bainton and M. G. Farquhar}, journal={The Journal of cell biology}, year={1971}, volume={50 2}, pages={498-515} }