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Phagocytes (also called macrophages) are white blood cells that are responsible for destroying pathogens and their toxins. They are carried in the blood and released following an infection.

Phagocytes work in a process called phagocytosis. When in close proximity with a pathogen, phagocytes are attracted and move towards the pathogen by chemoattractants that it produces. They then bind to the pathogen and engulf it into a phagosome. Enzymes released by the lysosomes of the phagocytes are able to break down the pathogen into soluble products that can be absorbed into the phagocytes cytoplasm and waste products that are released to the outside of the cells.

The release of histamine can cause a faster delivery of phagocytes to the infection site [1].


  1. Toole, G. and Toole, S. (2008), pp. 102-103 AQA AS Biology. China: Nelson Thornes Ltd.

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