Macrophages Vs. Lymphocytes

Difference Between Macrophages And Lymphocytes

The cells of the immune system fall into three groups: macrophages, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes. All types of cells are members of the white blood cell population and have their origin in bone marrow. These defender white cells account for one percent of the body’s 100 trillion cells.


The macrophages are the first to the battleground and are part of a nonspecific defense. They swallow up and dispose of enemy agents, dead cells, and other debris. They are phagocytes, or “cell eaters.” Not only do they ingest foreign substances, but macrophages also process harmful material so that it can be recognized as dangerous by other immune cells. These phagocytic cells constantly wander about, patrolling all the areas of the body. They are found in the bloodstream, tissues, and lymphatic system.

Natural Killer Cells.

Natural killer cells are a group of special immune cells that are able to quickly identify and destroy a large variety of newly formed cancer cells, virus-infected cells, and fungi. These immune cells are nonspecific in their attack.


The lymphocytes follow the macrophages into battle against foreign invaders. Unlike the nonspecific macrophages, lymphocytes are part of a specific immune defense—they are programmed to recognize and destroy specific enemy agents. For example, one group of lymphocyte defenders is trained to recognize and protect against measles and another to protect against chicken pox.

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