Definition of Phagocyte

PhagocytesA white blood cell (leukocyte) that consumes pathogens during an immune response called phagocytosis.

Granulocytes, and in particular neutrophils, are the primary phagocytes in the circulating blood.

Macrophages are phagocytes that reside primarily in the lymph structures and the tissues. Protein markers on the surface of the pathogen, called opsonins, attract phagocytes to the pathogen’s location.

The phagocyte extends its wall to encircle the pathogen, then releases enzymes that digest the pathogen. An individual phagocyte may digest up to a dozen pathogenic particles during the course of its existence.

See also BACTERIACELL STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONMONONUCLEAR PHAGOCYTE SYSTEM.

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