Phagocytosis is the ingestion of particles by cells. The process is usually observed in macrophages and amoebae and almost invariably culminates in the degradation of the ingested particle in the cell's lysosome. The phagosome functions at the fulcrum of the innate and acquired immune systems and promotes the identification of foreign antigens.

Keywords: phagocytosis; phagocyte; phagosome; macrophage; dendritic cell

Figure 1.

A scanning electron micrograph of a promastigote of Leishmania mexicana in the process of being phagocytosed by a murine macrophage. The phagocytic funnel can be seen enveloping the attached parasite in close apposition to the parasite surface.

Figure 2.

A graph showing the relative kinetics of acidification of phagosomes formed around either IgG‐beads or the pathogen Mycobacterium bovis BCG. The IgG bead‐containing phagosome acidifies below pH 5.0 within 10–12 min while the Mycobacterium phagosome exhibits limited acidification. The pH was calculated by fluorescence ratio as detailed in Yates et al. .

Figure 3.

An electron micrograph from a cutaneous lesion from a mouse infected with Leishmania mexicana. The amastigote form of the parasite persists in a communal vacuole that fills extensively with fluid. This vacuole intersects fully with the lysosomal system of the host cell.



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Further Reading

Deretic V, Singh S, Master S et al. (2006) Mycobacterium tuberculosis inhibition of phagolysosome biogenesis and autophagy as a host defence mechanism. Cell Microbiology 8(5): 719–727.

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Russell, David G(Apr 2007) Phagocytosis. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0000488.pub2]