Macrophage Puzzles

Macrophage Puzzles - Macrophage Puzzles: Macrophages are...

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Macrophage Puzzles: Macrophages are one of the smallest differentiated cell types in the human body, perhaps the smallest, although "macro" comes from the Greek word for big. When macrophages are circulating in the blood, they are called "monocytes"; when macrophages are embedded in brain tissue, they are called "microglia"; when macrophages are in the liver, they are called "Kupfer cells" (named after a German biologist) and are supposed to digest over-aged red blood cells. Another place where there are many macrophages is inside the alveoli of the lungs, and these are called "dust cells", because they are believed to phagocytize bits of dust that get into the lungs. When T-lymphocytes attack some tissue, macrophages are somehow attracted to the area (probably by chemotaxis), and themselves produce further damage to the tissue being attacked. For example, in people having an multiple sclerosis attack, there are large numbers of macrophages attacking some of their myelin, and phagocytizing pieces of it. Why don't the microglial cells also do this? Osteoclasts are larger, multinuclear cells that are believed to form by fusion of macrophages with each other. The function of osteoclasts is to dissolve bone (solubilizing the calcium phosphate, definitely; and maybe also digesting the collagen?), and your bones are constantly being dissolved in some places and being re-made (somehow) by a different kind of cell, called
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Macrophage Puzzles - Macrophage Puzzles: Macrophages are...

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