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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 as a white blood cell. In some develops of pet life, such as amoebas and sponges, phagocytosis is a way 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 international particles within cells was first described in the 1860s by pathologist Kranid Slavjansky. In the 1880s Russian-born zoologist and also microbiologist Élie Metchnikoff introduced the hatchet phagocyte in referral to immune cells the engulf and also destroy international bodies such as bacteria. Metchnikoff likewise recognized that phagocytes beat a major role in the immune response, a exploration that earned that a share of the 1908 Nobel Prize because that Physiology or Medicine.

Types the phagocytes


Observe the human immune response phagocytosis, in i m sorry leukocytes ingest or engulf invading microscopic organisms or particles
Learn about the human immune response phagocytosis by city hall time-lapse photography of a leukocyte, or white blood cell (globular structure), consuming bacteria.

The particles generally phagocytosed through white blood cells incorporate bacteria, dead organization cells, protozoa, various dust particles, pigments, and also other minute foreign bodies. In humans, and also in vertebrates generally, the most-effective phagocytic cells are two kinds of white blood cells: the macrophages (large phagocytic cells) and the neutrophils (a form of granulocyte). The macrophages occur particularly in the lungs, liver, spleen, and also lymph nodes, whereby their role is to cost-free the airways, blood, and also lymph that bacteria and other particles. Macrophages likewise are discovered in every tissues as wandering amoeboid cells, and the monocyte, a precursor the the macrophage, is uncovered in the blood. The smaller phagocytes space chiefly neutrophils that are lugged along by the turn around blood until they with an area of infected tissue, wherein they pass v the blood vessel wall and lodge in that tissue. Both macrophages and also neutrophils are attracted toward an area of epidemic or inflammation by way of substances provided off by the bacteria and also the infected organization or by a chemical interaction between the bacteria and the complement system that blood serum proteins. Neutrophils may additionally engulf particles after colliding through them accidentally.

Particle adherence


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

Before phagocytosis is accomplished, the phagocyte and also the particle should adhere to every other, the opportunity of i beg your pardon depends largely on the chemistry nature of the surface of the particle. In the case of bacteria, if the phagocyte can not adhere directly, protein materials of the blood known as opsonins (e.g., complement and also antibodies) type a surface film on bacteria—a process known together opsonization. Phagocytes adhere to the opsonins, and phagocytosis follows. Encapsulated bacteria space ingested with much more difficulty. In the lack of certain antibodies that acknowledge the bacteria, opsonization cannot occur, and the bacteria defeat phagocytes. The surfaces of together bacteria space coated through special antibodies only after the body has placed an immune an answer to the existence of that specific kind that bacterium. Such antibodies are of an excellent importance in creating immunity to diseases.

Particle engulfment and digestion

The rate with i m sorry a phagocytic cell ingests a particle varies somewhat with the size of the particle. Little particles, such together bacteria or minute grains of charcoal, are ingested nearly instantaneously. Bigger objects, such as clumps the bacteria or organization cells, space phagocytosed end the course of a more-prolonged response. The cell flows approximately the object until it has been fully engulfed. The engulfed thing is for this reason enclosed within a membrane-bound vacuole referred to as a phagosome. The phagocyte digests the ingested fragment with hydrolytic enzymes, which are had within membrane-enclosed sacs referred to as lysosomes uncovered within the cell. Phagocytic enzymes are secreted into the vacuole in which digestion takes place. Tiny organic materials of the bit are provided to build larger molecules needed 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 also Infectious Diseases/Centers for condition Control and also Prevention (CDC)
The editors of Encyclopaedia dearteassociazione.org This post was many recently revised and also updated by Kara Rogers.