Medical Terminology
Immune System

What is a macrophage?

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September 26, 2011 3:05PM

A Macrophage is a white blood cell, produced by Monocytes. Monocytes and Macrophages are both Phagocytes. These work as a part of the human immune system. They act in non-specific "innate" immunity defense and are able to initiate specific "cell-mediated" immunity.

The role of a phagocyte is to engulf and "digest"/destroy cell debris or pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. They are directly responsible for this process called phagocytosis. Macrophages also stimulate Lymphocytes and other immune cells that react to pathogens as what is called an "antigen-presenting" cell, also known as a histiocyte .

Macrophages are located throughout the bloodstream, and may be "fixed" or they can be freely motile and capable of amoeboid-like movement.