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[fag-uh-sahyt] /ˈfæg əˌsaɪt/

noun, Cell Biology.
any cell, as a macrophage, that ingests and destroys foreign particles, bacteria, and cell debris.
an amoeboid cell or protozoan that engulfs particles, such as food substances or invading microorganisms

1884, from German phagocyten (plural), coined in German in 1884 by Dr. Elias Metchnikoff (1845-1916) from Greek phago- “eating, devouring” (see -phagous) + -cyte (see cyto-). Related: Phagocytosis.

phagocytic phag·o·cyt·ic (fāg’ə-sĭt’ĭk)

phagocyte phag·o·cyte (fāg’ə-sīt’)
A cell, such as a white blood cell, that engulfs and absorbs waste material, harmful microorganisms, or other foreign bodies in the bloodstream and tissues.
Any of various organisms or specialized cells that engulf and ingest other cells or particles. In vertebrate animals, phagocytes are white blood cells that break down bacteria and other microorganisms, foreign particles, and cellular debris. These include monocytes, macrophages, and most granulocytes. ◇ The process by which phagocytes engulf and break down bacteria or particles is called phagocytosis (fāg’ə-sī-tō’sĭs). During phagocytosis the cell encloses foreign material and the extracellular fluid surrounding it by an infolding of a part of the cell membrane, which then pinches off to form a vesicle, called a phagosome. The phagosomes fuse with lysosomes, resulting in digestion of the ingested matter. Unicellular protists such as amoebas ingest food by the process of phagocytosis.


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  • Phagocytic-index

    noun 1. the average number of bacteria ingested per phagocyte in an incubated mixture of bacteria, phagocytes, and blood serum: used in determining the opsonic index. phagocytic index n. The average number of bacteria observed in the cytoplasm of neutrophils after a mixture of blood serum, bacteria, and neutrophils has been incubated.

  • Phagocytin

    phagocytin phag·o·cy·tin (fāg’ə-sīt’n) n. A labile bacteriocide isolated from polymorphonuclear white blood cells.

  • Phagocytic pneumonocyte

    phagocytic pneumonocyte n. An alveolar phagocyte containing hemosiderin, carbon, or other foreign particles.

  • Phagocytize

    [fag-uh-sahy-tahyz, -si-tahyz] /ˈfæg əˌsaɪ taɪz, -sɪˌtaɪz/ verb (used with object), phagocytized, phagocytizing. 1. (of a phagocyte) to devour (material). phagocytize phag·o·cy·tize (fāg’ə-sĭ-tīz’, -sī’-) v. phag·o·cy·tized, phag·o·cy·tiz·ing, phag·o·cy·tiz·es To ingest by phagocytosis; phagocytose.

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