An immune system cell that scavenges bacterial and other foreign material in the blood and tissues. It is a mature form of what is released from the marrow as a monocyte. A macrophage lives long, can digest much detritus, and is able to wear particles of odd food on its outer membrane. This allows T-cell and B-cell lymphocytes to taste the particle (an epitope) and form an antibody response. Further, these macrophages, traveling as monocytes, will take up permanent residence in many tissues, providing them with immunity. They line the spleen, form the cleansing Kupffer cells in the liver, make up the "dust cells" that protect the lungs, protect the synovial fluids of the joints, and form the microglial cells that provide protection to the brain and nerve tissues. Essentially the macrophages clean up messes and act as the intermediates between innate and acquired immunity.
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