Plutonium-239 dioxide particles injected into the peritoneal cavity of rats were rapidly phagocytized by peritoneal mononuclear phagocytes. A marked accumulation of particles within phagocytes was demonstrated by electron microscopy. The average active phagocyte had engulfed the equivalent of approximately 500 particles, 0.12 micron in diameter, at 3 to 7 hours after administration. This represents an amount of239 Pu which would deliver an estimated alpha dose to the phagocyte of about 225 rads/hour. Early marked ultrastructural damage was observed in many phagocytes, engulfing large amounts of plutonium particles. The plutonium-ladened phagocytes traveled to the omentum and mesentery, where they accumulated within lymphatic nodules. A partial release of plutonium particles from the omentum and mesentery back into the peritoneal cavity was observed at 1 to 4 weeks. The phagocyte plays a very important role in determining the early behavior of plutonium particles in the peritoneal cavity.

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