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Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Krista Fischer-Stenger


Macrophages are phagocytic cells that play critical roles in both the innate and adaptive immune responses. They mature from monocytes circulating in the blood and then migrate to tissues throughout the body, including connective tissue, the gastrointestinal tract, lung, spleen, and blood vessels in the liver. Unlike antibodies, macrophages require no prior exposure to antigens before they can act and thus serve as a first line of defense against infection. As a part of this innate response, macrophages immediately recognize pathogens either directly or via receptors for any opsonizing antibodies or complement proteins once they cross an epithelial barrier. The macrophages then engulf and destroy and the pathogens. In some cases, however, macrophages are overwhelmed by the sheer number of pathogenic organisms or are unable to recognize them due to mechanisms that they have developed to avoid detection. In such instances, the adaptive immune response is responsible for their recognition and removal and macrophages play a different immunological role.