Key Difference – Macrophages vs Dendritic Cells
Lymphocytes and phagocytes are two main types of immune cells. A phagocyte is a type of cell which is capable of engulfing and absorbing bacteria, other foreign cells, and infectious particles. There are two types of phagocytes: professional or non-professional phagocytes. The professional phagocytes are neutrophils, monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, and mast cells. A macrophage is a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests foreign cells, unwanted cell materials and debris which should not be present in a healthy body. They are the big eaters in the immune system. A dendritic cell is a type of antigen presenting white blood cell. They act as messengers between innate and adaptive immune system. The key difference between macrophages and dendritic cells is their functions; the main functions of the macrophages is to clean up waste and remove pathogens while the main function of dendritic cells is to process antigen material and present it on the cell surface to the T cells of the immune system. Dendritic cells recognize pathogens and present them to other cells to kill. Macrophages kill them and then present their peptide to other cells for further help.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Macrophages
3. What are Dendritic Cells
4. Similarities Between Macrophages and Dendritic Cells
5. Side by Side Comparison – Macrophages vs Dendritic Cells in Tabular Form
What are Macrophages?
Macrophage is a large phagocytic cell found in the immune system. They stay in their stationary form in the tissues or as mobile white blood cells at sites of infection. In Greek, macrophages mean “big eaters”. Macrophages engulf and digest cellular debris, foreign substances, pathogens, cancer cells, and anything which does not belong to the body. This process is called phagocytosis. They eat cell debris and pathogens, behaving like an ameba. Macrophages use phagocytosis process to get rid of foreign particles. They engulf the foreign particle by forming a pocket like structure called phagosome around them. Lysosomes release digestive enzymes to the phagosome. These enzymes digest and destroy the pathogens and cell debris. Therefore, macrophages are the main components of the immune system which recycle dead cells and other cellular debris. Macrophages are considered as the main components in the cell clean-up process.
Macrophages are formed from monocytes which are produced from the stem cells of bone marrows. They circulate through the blood stream and leave the blood after becoming mature.
What are Dendritic Cells?
Dendritic cells are a type of white blood cells which are popular as antigen presenting cells. They play an important role in the adaptive immune system. Dendritic cells are capable of inducing a primary immune response in the inactive or resting naive T lymphocytes against the pathogens. They recognize and capture antigens of the invading bodies and then process and present them on the cell surface along with the other necessary molecules. Dendritic cells also help B cells to function and maintain their immune memory.
Dendritic cells were first discovered by Ralph Steinman in 1970. They are found in tissues which are in contact with the external environment such as skin, nose lining, lungs, stomach, intestine, etc. These cells have branched projections called dendrites. Hence the name is given as dendritic cells.
What are the Similarities Between Macrophages and Dendritic Cells?
- Macrophages and dendritic cells are white blood cells
- Both cell types are phagocytes which engulf pathogens and cell debris.
What is the Difference Between Macrophages and Dendritic Cells?
Macrophages vs Dendritic Cells
|Macrophages are a type of white blood cells that cleanse the body from unwanted microscopic particles such as bacteria and dead cells.||Dendritic cells are a type of antigen presenting white blood cells.|
|The main function of the macrophage is to clean the body from cell debris and kill pathogens.||The main function of the dendritic cells is to process antigen material and present it on the cell surface to the T cells of the immune system.|
|Macrophages are bigger than dendritic cells.||Dendritic cells are smaller than macrophages.|
|Macrophages do not have dendrites.||Dendritic cells possess dendrites.|
Summary – Macrophages vs Dendritic Cells
Macrophages and dendritic cells are two types of white blood cells as well as phagocytes. Macrophages and dendritic cells differ in morphology and function. Macrophages are known as big eaters in the immune system since they are the main immune cells which eat pathogens and cell debris and clean the body. Dendritic cells are the antigen presenting immune cells. This is the difference between macrophages and dendritic cells.
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1. Cybulsky, Myron I., Cheolho Cheong, and Clinton S. Robbins. “Macrophages and Dendritic Cells.” Circulation Research. American Heart Association, Inc., 19 Feb. 2016. Web. Available here. 21 July 2017.
2. “Dendritic cell.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 July 2017. Web. Available here. 21 July 2017.
3. “Macrophages: Definition, Function & Types.” Study.com, n.d. Web. Available here. 21 July 2017.
1. “Macrophage” By The original uploader was Obli at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Dendritic cells” By Haymanj – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia