Phagocytosis in cellular defense and nutrition: a food-centered approach to the evolution of macrophages

Cell and Tissue Research
V Hartenstein, P Martinez


The uptake of macromolecules and larger energy-rich particles into the cell is known as phagocytosis. Phagocytosed material is enzymatically degraded in membrane-bound vesicles of the endosome/lysosome system (intracellular digestion). Whereas most, if not all, cells of the animal body are equipped with the molecular apparatus for phagocytosis and intracellular digestion, a few cell types are specialized for a highly efficient mode of phagocytosis. These are the ("professional") macrophages, motile cells that seek out and eliminate pathogenic invaders or damaged cells. Macrophages form the backbone of the innate immune system. Developmentally, they derive from specialized compartments within the embryonic mesoderm and early vasculature as part of the process of hematopoiesis. Intensive research has revealed in detail molecular and cellular mechanisms of phagocytosis and intracellular digestion in macrophages. In contrast, little is known about a second type of cell that is "professionally" involved in phagocytosis, namely the "enteric phagocyte." Next to secretory (zymogenic) cells, enteric phagocytes form one of the two major cell types of the intestine of most invertebrate animals. Unlike vertebrates, these invertebrates only...Continue Reading


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Methods Mentioned

electron microscopy

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