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Macrophages: The 'defense' cells that help throughout the body
Date:8/26/2010

enance of extracellular matrix, the material between cells that gives them structural support.

Certain harmful microbes, such as the tropical parasite Leishmania spp., can exploit wound-healing macrophages, said Dr. Mosser. "If you have a macrophage whose job it is to promote wound-healing, that macrophage will not be capable of killing microbes," he said. "The microbe can enter the macrophage and survive inside, which is not good for the human host."

Infection with Leishmania spp. causes leishmaniasis, which is characterized by skin sores and ulcers and can enlarge the spleen, damage the liver, and cause anemia. At worst, it can decrease immunity and leave victims vulnerable to potentially fatal opportunistic infections. Survivors can suffer from immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome, in which their recovering immune systems go overboard in response to infection and create an inflammatory response that makes symptoms even worse. Understanding how Leishmania exploits macrophages has led to a better understanding of how macrophages function in health and disease. It has also stressed the importance of treating infections early, before the bugs can wreak havoc on the immune system.


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Contact: Donna Krupa
DKrupa@the-aps.org
301-634-7209
American Physiological Society
Source:Eurekalert

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