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Key People:Élie MetchnikoffKarl Albert Ludwig Aschoff...(Show more)Related Topics:white blood cellautophagymacrophagephagocyteKupffer cell...(Show more)

phagocytosis, process by which specific living cells called phagocytes ingest or engulf other cells or particles. The phagocyte may be a free-living one-celled organism, such as an amoeba, or one of the human body cells, such together a white blood cell. In some forms of pet life, such as amoebas and sponges, phagocytosis is a method of feeding. In higher animals phagocytosis is chiefly a protective reaction against infection and also invasion the the body by foreign substances (antigens).

Early observations

The existence of foreign particles within cell was first described in the 1860s by pathology Kranid Slavjansky. In the 1880s Russian-born zoologist and also microbiologist Élie Metchnikoff introduced the ax phagocyte in recommendation to immune cells the engulf and destroy foreign bodies such as bacteria. Metchnikoff also recognized the phagocytes pat a major role in the immune response, a exploration that earned him a re-superstructure of the 1908 Nobel Prize because that Physiology or Medicine.

Types that phagocytes


Observe the human being immune response phagocytosis, in i m sorry leukocytes ingest or engulf invading microscopic biology or particles
Learn around the human being immune an answer phagocytosis by the town hall time-lapse photography of a leukocyte, or white blood cabinet (globular structure), spend bacteria.

The particles commonly phagocytosed by white blood cells include bacteria, dead organization cells, protozoa, miscellaneous dust particles, pigments, and also other minute international bodies. In humans, and also in vertebrates generally, the most-effective phagocytic cells room two kinds of white blood cells: the macrophages (large phagocytic cells) and the neutrophils (a kind of granulocyte). The macrophages occur particularly in the lungs, liver, spleen, and lymph nodes, whereby their function is to complimentary the airways, blood, and lymph that bacteria and also other particles. Macrophages additionally are found in all tissues together wandering amoeboid cells, and also the monocyte, a precursor the the macrophage, is discovered in the blood. The smaller sized phagocytes are chiefly neutrophils that are lugged along by the turn around blood until they with an area the infected tissue, wherein they pass v the blood vessel wall surface and lodge in that tissue. Both macrophages and neutrophils are drawn toward one area of epidemic or inflammation by means of substances offered off by the bacteria and the infected organization or through a chemical interaction between the bacteria and the match system that blood serum proteins. Neutrophils may likewise engulf corpuscle after colliding with them accidentally.

Particle adherence


Learn about staining of bacteria (greenish yellow) and also phagocytes (reddish pink) to aid distinguish the two varieties of cells from each various other in these images.

Before phagocytosis is accomplished, the phagocyte and also the particle need to adhere to each other, the possibility of i beg your pardon depends greatly on the chemistry nature of the surface of the particle. In the case of bacteria, if the phagocyte cannot adhere directly, protein contents of the blood known as opsonins (e.g., complement and also antibodies) form a surface film top top bacteria—a procedure known together opsonization. Phagocytes adhere come the opsonins, and also phagocytosis follows. Encapsulated bacteria space ingested with an ext difficulty. In the lack of certain antibodies that identify the bacteria, opsonization can not occur, and also the bacteria loss phagocytes. The surface of such bacteria room coated with special antibodies just after the body has an installed an immune response to the existence of that certain kind of bacterium. Such antibodies space of great importance in creating immunity come diseases.

Particle engulfment and also digestion

The rate with i beg your pardon a phagocytic cell ingests a bit varies somewhat with the dimension of the particle. Little particles, such as bacteria or minute grains of charcoal, are ingested nearly instantaneously. Larger objects, such as clumps the bacteria or organization cells, space phagocytosed end the food of a more-prolonged response. The cabinet flows roughly the object until it has been fully engulfed. The engulfed object is thus enclosed in ~ a membrane-bound vacuole referred to as a phagosome. The phagocyte digests the ingested fragment with hydrolytic enzymes, which are consisted of within membrane-enclosed sacs referred to as lysosomes found within the cell. Phagocytic enzymes are secreted into the vacuole in which digestion takes place. Small organic contents of the particle are used to develop larger molecules required by the cell.


Four methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria (purple) gift engulfed by neutrophils (blue), which room a type of human white blood cell.

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National academy of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Centers for an illness Control and Prevention (CDC)
The editors of Encyclopaedia jajalger2018.org This short article was most recently revised and also updated by Kara Rogers.