• macrophages;
  • multinucleation;
  • nucleolar DNA;
  • chromatin DNA


Rat bone marrow-derived macrophages formed multinucleated giant cells spontaneously when cultured in slide glass chambers or when induced with the polyanion acetyl lignin. Nuclei in such cells tended to cluster in distinct rings. DNA fragmentation appeared to occur in multinucleated cells, as detected by 3′ end-labeling. Southern blot analyses, using probes specific for nucleolar and non-nucleolar genes, indicated that chromatin DNA was fragmented whereas nucleolar DNA was relatively intact. Autoradiography revealed preservation, in multinucleated cells, of nucleoli into which radiolabeled uridine was incorporated. Multinucleated macrophages appeared to eventually fragment. Preserved integrity of nucleoli seems to be a feature of macrophage multinucleation, a process which apparently culminates in cell death.