• Question: what in a white blood cells cytoplasm engulfs the other pathogens so successfully?

    Asked by lovindatscience123 to Ramya, Keith, Bethany on 22 Jun 2014.
    • Photo: Ramya Bhatia

      Ramya Bhatia answered on 22 Jun 2014:


      Dear lovindatscience123

      White blood cells are of different kinds. A type of white blood cell is Neutrophils which engulfs pathogens. These have lysosomes (which kills pathogens) There is a great video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TvTyj5FAaQ

      There are other types of white blood cells such a eosinophils, basophils, macrophages and lymphocytes which all have specific funtions for killing pathogens. You can read more about them here http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/circulatory/blood2.htm

    • Photo: Bethany Dearlove

      Bethany Dearlove answered on 27 Jun 2014:


      The method through which white blood cells engulf and break down pathogens is called phagocytosis. The cell membrane of the white blood cell surrounds the pathogens, and then traps it inside. The area in which it’s trapped is called a vesicle. Then the lysosomes attach to the vesicle, and release special proteins called enzymes, that digest (breakdown) the pathogen so it it no longer harmful.

      This video shows a white blood cell chasing bacteria (the small dark dots), and finally engulfing them at around 20 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnlULOjUhSQ

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