Physiology and Pathophysiology of Neutral Proteinases of Human Granulocytes

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The occurence of proteolytic enzymes in polymorphonuclear granulocytes was first demonstrated in 1888 by the famous clinician and biochemist Friedrich von Müller1 who showed that a glycerine extract of fresh pus digests fibrin or coagulated protein at a neutral or weakly alkaline pH. Later on at the end of the last and the beginning of this century further characterization of the enzymes including their serum antiproteases was achieved by German and American scientists2,3,4. However, the neutral proteases then became largely forgotten as the result of the attention paid to the acid-cathepsins of the rabbit leukocyte, a convenient but somewhat misleading cell.