What Are Microphages? What Do They Do?
What Are Microphages?
Different from but similar to macrophages, microphages are a type of phagocytic white blood cell that circulate the body in search of unnecessary or harmful substances to destroy. They are a part of the body's innate immunity, meaning they can fight off any kind of pathogenic microorganism or foreign particle that invades the body.
Microphages are created from precursor cells in the bone marrow. Once created, they enter the bloodstream and reside within the circulatory system for a period of hours before they leave circulation and naturally die.
Similarities and Difference Between Microphages and Macrophages
Microphages and macrophages are small phagocytes, a type of immune cell capable of ingesting bacteria, small cells, and other particles. Both exist within the blood and lymph, originating from bone marrow, and both serve the purpose of eliminating cellular debris and invading microbes through a process called phagocytosis. They essentially act as scavengers, rooting out and destroying anything they recognize as being foreign to the body—from viral and bacterial invaders to cancer cells.
Microphages and macrophages conduct phagocytosis through something called the actin-myosin contractile system. This allows the phagocytes’ cell membranes to expand in order to engulf and ingest microorganisms and cellular debris.
Although microphages and macrophages perform the same main function of ingesting harmful material, they differ in both size, numbers, and life span. Of the two, microphages are much smaller, hence the prefix “micro-”, and live only for a few days as compared to macrophages, who tend to live up to several months. Microphages are also present in much larger numbers than macrophages, and as a result, there are microphage reserves found in bone marrow.
How to Ensure Good Levels of Microphages
Microphages are key players in the body’s immune system, and thus, maintaining good levels of microphages is important in contributing to good immune health. This means eating a healthy diet, avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and taking immune supplements when needed.
Eating foods containing folic acid, iron, protein, and vitamin B6 are great ways to ensure healthy bone marrow, which results in healthy production of microphages for your immune system.