Monday, May 16, 2011

Opsonisation – to prepare for the table

The immune system protects us from non-self material such as bacteria or from self material gone wrong such as cancerous cells. Phagocytes are immune cells that eat (engulf) for example bacteria in an attempt to render them harmless.
Before phagocytes eat bacteria (phagocytosis), the bacteria have to be made more ‘tasty’ by being coated with proteins. Opsonisation a word derived from the Greek term meaning to prepare for the table is the process whereby bacteria become coated with these proteins, called opsonins.
Opsonins include antibodies (immunoglobulins) produced by white blood cells and complement proteins so named because they complement the activities of antibodies.
Underwood JCE and Cross SS (eds.), 2009, General and Systematic Pathology, 5th edition, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, page 207. Go to reference

Phagocyte eating bacteria

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