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Humate-induced activation of human granulocytes


Naturally occurring humic substances are particular chemical compounds which are found in humus. They bind to carbohydrates, amino acids and steroids by means of hydrogen bonds, covalent bonds and epsilon donor-acceptor complexes. Three specimens of low-molecular humic substances were tested (two naturally occurring humates and one synthetically prepared humate). They were all capable of stimulating certain functions of human neutrophils (PMN), such as the respiratory burst which results in the production of toxic oxygen compounds. This PMN stimulation can be demonstrated with the help of chemiluminescence, as well as by cytochemistry and with the electron microscope. The main product of the humate-induced PMN response is H2O2. There was no activation of neutrophilic chemokinesis or chemotaxis. It is suggested that the lowmolecular humic substances originating from decaying organic material contain chemical structures which can act as signals to change dormant PMN into activated cells.

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Correspondence to Urs N. Riede.

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Riede, U.N., Zeck-Kapp, G., Freudenberg, N. et al. Humate-induced activation of human granulocytes. Virchows Archiv B Cell Pathol 60, 27–34 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02899524

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Key words

  • Humic substances
  • Humate
  • Human neutrophils
  • Respiratory burst
  • Chemiluminescence
  • Electron microscopy