Phagocytes are another type of immune cell, specifically white blood cells, that play a critical role in the late and early stages of the immune response. It has the ability to engulf, ingest and sometimes digest foreign particles such as bacteria, carbon, and dust. They do this by extending their cytoplasm into pseudopods, temporary arm-like projections, that surround the particle forming a vacuole. In the case of an antigen, it cannot affect the phagocytes since its toxins are contained in the vacuole, the phagocyte then releases enzymes that enable digestion to occur.
There are two major classes of phagocytes, these are as follows:
Neutrophilic Leukocytes – These are small, granular leukocytes that rapidly locate the site of a wound and ingest bacteria. They additionally have the critical capability to effectively eradicate fungal infections.
Monocytes – These can become either macrophages or dendritic cells when a germ enters the body. This determines whether the cells will kill the foreign invader or alert other blood cells to assist in destruction, thus resulting in the prevention of infection.
Infection, immunity, and the immune system as a whole are incredibly advanced, below are a handful of more detailed research papers that delve into details of the aforementioned points.