What is a Phagocyte?
A phagocyte is a type of white blood cell that plays a vital role in your immune response to pathogens. Their coverage in the body is extensive, as they are present in your bloodstream, lymphatic system and tissue. Yet, they are just one component of a complex mechanism used to rid your body of harmful invaders. Phagocytes also play a housekeeping role in relation to cellular debris from tissue damage, dead cells, dying cells and cancerous cells.
There are a variety of cells in your body that can be classified as phagocytes. However, neutrophils and macrophages (mature monocytes) are the most active in the hunt, defense and mopping up afterwards. Neutrophils and monocytes are produced in the bone marrow. Macrophages mature from monocytes, a process that takes place in tissue. The characteristics of each type are different, which creates a broader defense to a variety of infection possibilities. The one capability they both have in common is phagocytosis.
What is a Phagocytosis?
Phagocytosis is the process by which phagocytes engulf, ingest and breakdown undesirable or unwanted stuff. Generally, the breaking apart is accomplished through the use of enzymes. Inflammation is a mechanism for drawing phagocytes to a site of infection or tissue damage.
Phagocytosis is a defense measure for which the stuff, for instance bacteria, is destroyed when all goes well. After a successful destruction, unwanted material is expelled from the phagocyte into the blood or lymph for disposal. However, some of the debris may be held on to for your immune system to create adaptive immunity against the particular pathogen. Unfortunately, bacteria can sometimes out maneuver their demise in this way.
How each type of phagocyte operates in accomplishing the process of phagocytosis differs. Neurtophils are short lived phagocytes that circulate around in the bloodstream. Because of their roaming position, they are frequently the first to encounter invading organisms. In some cases, these first on the scene phagocytes can get the job done without needing much help.
Macrophages can be recruited in from their tissue position when an invasive situation lasts too long, or becomes chronic. These phagocytes are more capable of destroying that which puts up a formidable resistance. Macrophages live longer and develop into macrophages from monocytes after they have settled into tissue.
This health blurb only offers basic generalities in regards to phagocytosis. Your immune system is highly complex system and much more goes on than what’s stated here during any given response.