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Blood. 2008 Aug 15;112(4):935-45. doi: 10.1182/blood-2007-12-077917.

The phagocytes: neutrophils and monocytes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle A98195, USA.


The production and deployment of phagocytes are central functions of the hematopoietic system. In the 1950s, radioisotopic studies demonstrated the high production rate and short lifespan of neutrophils and allowed researchers to follow the monocytes as they moved from the marrow through the blood to become tissue macrophages, histiocytes, and dendritic cells. Subsequently, the discovery of the colony-stimulating factors greatly improved understanding the regulation of phagocyte production. The discovery of the microbicidal myeloperoxidase-H2O2-halide system and the importance of NADPH oxidase to the generation of H2O2 also stimulated intense interest in phagocyte disorders. More recent research has focused on membrane receptors and the dynamics of the responses of phagocytes to external factors including immunoglobulins, complement proteins, cytokines, chemokines, integrins, and selectins. Phagocytes express toll-like receptors that aid in the clearance of a wide range of microbial pathogens and their products. Phagocytes are also important sources of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, thus participating in host defenses through a variety of mechanisms. Over the last 50 years, many genetic and molecular disorders of phagocytes have been identified, leading to improved diagnosis and treatment of conditions which predispose patients to the risk of recurrent fevers and infectious diseases.

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