The ability of human and rabbit alveolar macrophages to dissolve 0.1-0.5 micron MnO2 particles in vitro was compared. The amount of Mn added and dissolved from the particles over periods of nought, one, and three days was determined by flame atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The amount dissolved by human and rabbit macrophages was similar; on average 43.1% and 43.9%, respectively, were dissolved within three days. But rabbit and human macrophages dissolved significantly more Mn than was dissolved in the respective culture medium without macrophages after one and three days. It is suggested that the dissolution of particles by alveolar macrophages should be one basic component in any model of alveolar clearance of inorganic particles.
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