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A phagocyte is a cell that is able to engulf and digest bacteria, protozoa, other microbes and cell debris. Phagocytosis is the act of engulfment and digestion.

Phagocytes include white blood cells such as neutrophils and macrophages.

Phagocytosis is usually the prelude to destruction of the contents of the phagosome - phagocytic vacuole.

Defects in phagocytosis can occur at any stage e.g.:

  • reduced opsonin levels
  • cellular dysfunction e.g. diabetes
  • destructive enzyme deficiency or dysfunction e.g. chronic granulomatous disease
  • mixed defect e.g. Chediak-Higashi syndrome

Last reviewed 01/2018