Christine Foutch is a practicing Holistic Physician in Rock Island, Illinois, specializing in Holistic Nutrition and Biomechanics. Holistic medicine is the art and the science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies... more
Anatomy and Physiology Textbook 6th Edition
The body uses a huge amount of non-specific cellular and chemical strategies to protect itself including Phagocytes, Natural Killer Cells, Anti-microbial-proteins, and fever. The inflammatory chemicals put out by damaged cells enlist the help of the white blood cells with the type of "don't know don't care" strategy. It kills all that is not supposed to be there.
These chemicals put out by the damaged cells actually calls the immune cells over to the damaged area. This process is called Chemotaxis. These chemicals create a chemical gradient to be followed, bringing the chemicals that help to kill pathogens and repair the damaged tissues.
The tactics that they use to identity harmful substances is done by by bumping into them and binding tightly, allowing the molecules on the outer surfaces of infectious organisms to be recognized by their specific shapes that are not part of the human body. The immune cells do this by pattern recognition receptors.
What exactly are Phagocytes anyway?
Phago- means 'eating' and -cyte is a cell (yes I know, very descriptive). These pathogens that get through to the deeper tissues encounter your immune-eating cells. Your most abundant white blood cell is the Neutrophil, and it is a small phagocytic cell, meaning when it comes into contact with the invading substances, it eats them.
However, there is also the Macrophage, which is the big-eater immune cell. When the Macrophages are within the blood, they have a different name. They are called the Monocytes.
Phagocytosis is actually the process of the eating that the phagocytic cell does, both the Neutrophil and the Macrophage.
Within this process, the phagocyte immune cell engulfs the entire foreign particle, taking it entirely into the cell. It does this by changing shape.
This creates cytoplasmic extension that reaches out to grab and bind to the entire particle, pulling it inside the phagocyte, enclosing it into its own membrane which is called Phagosome. Now at this point, the pathogen is inside the phagocyte in a membrane.
Already within the immune cell is the organelle = Lysosome. This is a membrane full of digestive enzymes which will fuse with the engulfed pathogen that is inside the immune cell in its own membrane. When they fuse, the new formation is now named a Phagolysosome. The digestive enzymes within begin to break apart the engulfed foreign substance. They do this by acidifying the Phagolysosome and digesting the contents.
Now this part you might not believe. I mean, really; you might not.
Once the contents of the Phagolysosome have been digested, well, the best way to put this is the cells relieve themselves, excreting the digested particles. At this point, the immune-B cells come over and take a look as there may be a need for the production of the antibodies and memory-cells, but first permission must be given from the regulatory-T-cells.
Christine Foutch is a practicing Holistic Physician in Rock Island, Illinois. Holistic medicine is the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. The practice of holistic medicine integrates conventional and alternative therapies to prevent and treat disease, and most importantly, to promote optimal health.