We used monoclonal antibodies and flow cytometry to study the expression of the receptors for the complement fragments C3bi (CR3) and C3b (CR1) on human polymorphonuclear neutrophil leukocytes (PMN). Expression of both receptors was minimal on cells stained in anticoagulated whole blood incubated at 0° or 37°C. PMN isolated with Percoll density gradients and held at 0°C also had only minimal expression of both receptors. With the isolated cells, however, a spontaneous increase in expression of both receptors occurred upon warming to 37°C. This did not represent complete expression of either receptor since additional increments in surface expression could be induced upon stimulation with N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine or Raji cell supernatant. The increases in complement receptor (CR) expression appeared to be specific since there were no changes in expression of the Fcγ receptor or β-2-microglobulin under any of these conditions. The increased CR expression seems to involve translocation from an intracellular pool since it is complete within minutes and is not blocked by puromycin or cycloheximide. These results demonstrate that both CR3 and CR1 expression increase rapidly upon activation of PMN and that isolated cells can be used to study this phenomenon, which may be a critical part of neutrophil function in vivo.
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