A type of white blood cell, they are involved in the detection and destruction of microorganisms and removal of dead cells. They also stimulate the action of other immune system cells.
Macrophages are part of the innate immune system, the body’s first line of defence against germs entering the body. The innate immune system acts very quickly and in the same way to all germs and foreign substances. Macrophages migrate and circulate within almost every tissue, looking for pathogens or eliminating dead cells.
This image shows a macrophage with its distinctive tendrils found in the lungs. The black specks seen within the cell are bushfire carbon or smoke particles the macrophage has ingested to remove the carbon from the lungs.
At the Centenary Institute, we are looking at the impact of bushfire smoke on the respiratory and immune system by understanding the inflammatory response.