In vitro functions of polymorphonuclear (PMN) neutrophils were studied in 20 patients with progressive systemic sclerosis (PSS). An increase in the basal chemiluminescence (CL) activity of peripheral blood PMNs was found, suggesting that these cells had been preactivated in vivo. Patients with more extensive skin disease or signs of disease progression tended to have higher basal CL values. Active oxygen products during the respiratory burst may increase the extent of inflammatory and fibrotic processes and could be involved in the endothelial injury in PSS. The stimulatory capacity of CL response was normal in our study. No alterations were found in the opsonised yeast phagocytic activity of granulocytes when compared with control values. The binding of erythrocyte-antibody particles was found also to be normal. A depressed chemotactic activity of PMN cells against zymosan activated serum was also shown. The cause of the decreased chemotaxis of PMNs remains to be elucidated.
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