The macrophages are highly specialized, multitasking immune cells that play a key role in the protection of the organism against pathogen invasion.
The macrophages originate from the monocytes, a type of white blood cells that comes from the bone marrow. The monocytes leave the circulation and enter the peripheral tissues where they differentiate into macrophages. The process of differentiation means that the cell will increase in size up to 5-10 times, and will increase the number and size of internal cell organelles. It is important to note that it is heterogeneity in the population of macrophages in different tissues which reflects the required level of specialization within certain tissues.
Some examples of macrophages in different tissues are:
- Alveolar macrophages - located in lung alveoli;
- Kupffer cells - located in the liver;
- Microglia - located in the central nervous system (CNS);
- Splenic macrophages - located in the red and white pulp of the spleen.
The main function of macrophages reflects in the process of phagocytosis which protects the tissues from infection and injury by ingesting and destroying the pathogens (e.g., bacteria), dying or dead cells or cellular debris. In addition, the macrophages also play a key role in processes such as wound healing, cell activation in the process of inflammation, iron metabolism and homeostasis, etc.
|Definition||Highly specialized cells of the immune system present in almost all tissues of the body.|
|Function||Phagocytosis, inflammation, healing, iron metabolism, pigment retainment|
Learn more about the different cells and tissues in the body with our study unit:
Macrophages: want to learn more about it?
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