Brandt, Philip W. Department of Anatomy, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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- Feeding mechanism
- Defense mechanism
- Immunity factors
- Digestion and destruction
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A mechanism by which single cells, including small protozoa, engulf and carry particles into their cytoplasm. Phagocytosis (see illustration) encompasses a series of biological steps in which specific cells (often referred to as phagocytes) or protozoa (unicellular eukaryotes) engulf and ingest other cells or particles. Phagocytosis differs from endocytosis primarily in the size of the particle rather than in the mechanism; as particles approach the dimensions and solubility of macromolecules, cells take them up by the process of endocytosis. Phagocytosis is particularly important in the mammalian immune system because phagocytic cells detect, engulf, and destroy foreign particles, microbes, and other pathogens. See also: Cell (biology); Cell biology; Cytoplasm; Endocytosis; Evolution of phagotrophy; Immunology; Pathogen; Protozoa
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