Phagocytosis

Last Updated: July 15, 2018

Definition - What does Phagocytosis mean?

Phagocytosis is the term used to describe the process of absorption or ingestion of substances by phagocyte cells. Phagocytes intake other substances such as bacteria, food, or antigens by engulfing the material. Once fully enclosed by the phagocyte membrane, the substance can then be broken down and digested or destroyed.

The process of phagocytosis begins when a substance attaches to the receptor of the phagocyte cell. These receptors only bind to specific substances that vary depending on the specific phagocyte and its role in the body. Activation of these receptors through attachment of the targeted substance also triggers the next phase of phagocytosis.

WorkplaceTesting explains Phagocytosis

Phagocytes can be single-celled organisms such as amoebas or biological cells within another larger entity. In complex organisms, such as human beings, phagocytes are found throughout the body. Through phagocytosis, cells are able to digest nutrients or break down foreign matter.

Specialized phagocyte cells are located throughout the human body to perform specific functions that require phagocytosis. Because of their nature, these cells can defend the body against foreign substances without harming the surrounding tissue.

One of the most common examples of phagocytosis is the destruction of infectious materials by the body's white blood cells. Phagocytosis is also the mechanism by which dead cell material and foreign particles are removed from the body. For example, dust is removed from the lungs through phagocytosis.


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