Macrophage and Lymphocytes, SEM


Color enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a macrophage (blue) and two lymphocytes (yellow). Lymphocytes and macrophages are both white blood cells that are involved in the bodies immune response to infection. Macrophages form in the bone marrow and can attack many types of foreign organisms. The majority of white blood cells, like lymphocytes, are stored in lymph nodes and "filter" pathogens (like bacteria) from the lymph that passes through them. Macrophages are a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, cancer cells, and anything else that does not have the types of proteins specific to the surface of healthy body cells on its surface in a process called phagocytosis. Besides phagocytosis, they play a critical role in nonspecific defense (innate immunity) and also help initiate specific defense mechanisms (adaptive immunity) by recruiting other immune cells such as lymphocytes. Beyond increasing inflammation and stimulating the immune system, macrophages also play an important anti-inflammatory role and can decrease immune reactions through the release of cytokines.

Credit: David M. Phillips / Science Source

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