Another important innate defense mechanism is the ingestion of extracellular particulate material by phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is one type of endocytosis, the general term for the uptake by a cell of material from its environment. In phagocytosis, a cell's plasma membrane expands around the particulate material, which may include whole pathogenic microorganisms, to form large vesicles called phagosomes (Figure 1-3). Most phagocytosis is conducted by specialized cells, such as blood monocytes, neutrophils, and tissue macrophages (see Chapter 2). Most cell types are capable of other forms of endocytosis, such as receptor-mediated endocytosis, in which extracellular molecules are internalized after binding by specific cellular receptors, and pinocytosis, the process by which cells take up fluid from the surrounding medium along with any molecules contained in it.
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This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.