Examples of nongranulated leukocytes


It is formed in the lymphatic tissues such as the spleen, liver and lymph nodes. These white blood cells are characterized by the absence of granules in the cytoplasm. Although the name implies the absence of granules in these cells, they contain non-specific lapis-blue granules, which are lysosomes. These leukocytes include: lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages.

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Macrophages (abbreviated as Mφ, MΦ or MP) (Greek: large eaters, from Greek μακρός (makrós) = large, φαγεῖν (phagein) = to eat) are a type of white blood cell of the immune system that engulfs and digests pathogens, such as cancer cells, microbes, cellular debris, and foreign substances, which do not have proteins that are specific to healthy body cells on their surface.The process is called phagocytosis, which acts to defend the host against infection and injury.

These large phagocytes are found in essentially all tissues, where they patrol for potential pathogens by amoeboid movement. They take various forms (with various names) throughout the body (e.g., histiocytes, Kupffer cells, alveolar macrophages, microglia, and others), but all are part of the mononuclear phagocyte system. Besides phagocytosis, they play a critical role in nonspecific defense (innate immunity) and also help initiate specific defense mechanisms (adaptive immunity) by recruiting other immune cells such as lymphocytes. For example, they are important as antigen presenters to T cells. In humans, dysfunctional macrophages cause severe diseases such as chronic granulomatous disease that result in frequent infections.

Beyond increasing inflammation and stimulating the immune system, macrophages also play an important anti-inflammatory role and can decrease immune reactions through the release of cytokines. Macrophages that encourage inflammation are called M1 macrophages, whereas those that decrease inflammation and encourage tissue repair are called M2 macrophages.This difference is reflected in their metabolism; M1 macrophages have the unique ability to metabolize arginine to the "killer" molecule nitric oxide, whereas M2 macrophages have the unique ability to metabolize arginine to the "repair" molecule ornithine. However, this dichotomy has been recently questioned as further complexity has been discovered.

Human macrophages are about 21 micrometres (0.00083 in) in diameter and are produced by the differentiation of monocytes in tissues. They can be identified using flow cytometry or immunohistochemical staining by their specific expression of proteins such as CD14, CD40, CD11b, CD64, F4/80 (mice)/EMR1 (human), lysozyme M, MAC-1/MAC-3 and CD68.

Lymphocytes are much more common in the lymphatic system than in blood. Lymphocytes are distinguished by having a deeply staining nucleus that may be eccentric in location, and a relatively small amount of cytoplasm. Lymphocytes include:

B cells make antibodies that can bind to pathogens, block pathogen invasion, activate the complement system, and enhance pathogen destruction.

T cells:

CD4+ helper T cells: T cells displaying co-receptor CD4 are known as CD4+ T cells. These cells have T-cell receptors and CD4 molecules that, in combination, bind antigenic peptides presented on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules on antigen-presenting cells. Helper T cells make cytokines and perform other functions that help coordinate the immune response. In HIV infection, these T cells are the main index to identify the individual's immune system integrity.

CD8+ cytotoxic T cells: T cells displaying co-receptor CD8 are known as CD8+ T cells. These cells bind antigens presented on MHC I complex of virus-infected or tumour cells and kill them. Nearly all nucleated cells display MHC I.

γδ T cells possess an alternative T cell receptor (different from the αβ TCR found on conventional CD4+ and CD8+ T cells). Found in tissue more commonly than in blood, γδ T cells share characteristics of helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, and natural killer cells.

Natural killer cells are able to kill cells of the body that do not display MHC class I molecules, or display stress markers such as MHC class I polypeptide-related sequence A (MIC-A). Decreased expression of MHC class I and up-regulation of MIC-A can happen when cells are infected by a virus or become cancerous.

Monocytes, the largest type of white blood cell, share the "vacuum cleaner" (phagocytosis) function of neutrophils, but are much longer lived as they have an extra role: they present pieces of pathogens to T cells so that the pathogens may be recognized again and killed. This causes an antibody response to be mounted. Monocytes eventually leave the bloodstream and become tissue macrophages, which remove dead cell debris as well as attack microorganisms. Neither dead cell debris nor attacking microorganisms can be dealt with effectively by the neutrophils. Unlike neutrophils, monocytes are able to replace their lysosomal contents and are thought to have a much longer active life. They have the kidney-shaped nucleus and are typically not granulated. They also possess abundant cytoplasm.

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