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Influence of Glucose Levels on the In Vitro Phagocytosis of Bacteria by Human Neutrophils

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  • Pathogenic Mechanisms
  • Ecology
  • And Epidemiology


A previously developed in vitro method for studying the phagocytosis of bacteria and particles by human neutrophils was used to investigate the influence of different glucose levels on phagocytosis. It was found that high glucose levels (200, 400, and 800 mg of glucose/100 ml) significantly depressed the phagocytosis of Staphylococcus epidermidis, S. aureus, and Escherichia coli. At very low glucose levels, a somewhat decreased phagocytic activity was noted. The strongest phagocytic activity occurred at glucose concentrations of 50 and 100 mg/100 ml. A second effect noted at the higher (200, 400 and 800 mg/100 ml) glucose concentrations was a decreased adhesiveness of the neutrophils to solid surfaces. The mechanism of the decrease in phagocytosis and in neutrophil adhesiveness at higher glucose levels is unknown, but it is not linked to increased osmotic pressures due to the presence of glucose, as ethanol, at the same and even higher osmolal concentrations, had no effect on the phagocytosis. These results show that not only the phagocytic activity of those neutrophils that do adhere to a solid surface is diminished at higher glucose concentrations but also that fewer neutrophils adhere to solid surfaces at higher glucose levels. These two phenomena combined may provide at least part of the explanation for the well-known decrease in resistance to bacterial infections of diabetics.

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