White Blood cell chasing a bacterium. Filmed through microscope

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White Blood cell

Have you seen a human white blood cell chasing a bacterium captured through a microscope? 

Watch the full video here,

Credits & Courtesy: David Rogers

This classic movie was made by David Rogers at Vanderbilt University in the 1950s. It shows a neutrophil (a type of white blood cell) chasing a bacterium through a field of red blood cells in a blood smear. After pursuing the bacterium around several red blood cells, the neutrophil finally catches up to and engulfs its prey. In the human body, these cells are an important first line of defense against bacterial infection. The speed of rapid movements such as cell crawling can be most easily measured by the method of direct observation. Courtesy of the estate of David Rogers, Vanderbilt University.

White blood cells fight off the bacteria and viruses that invade your body and make you sick. In the video above you can see a WBC called a neutrophil chase down a Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. The circular cells that the white blood cell is moving through are red blood cells.

Your body is constantly covered (inside and out) by bacteria. Some are good for you, some are harmless and some can make you sick. Staphylococcus aureus is frequently found on our skin and respiratory tract. It doesn’t always cause disease but can infect the skin or lungs. There are more bacteria in and on your body than there are people on the Earth. Think on that one for a few minutes.

The white blood cell is attracted to the bacteria because proteins called antibodies have marked the bacteria for destruction. These antibodies are specific for disease-causing bacteria and viruses. When the white blood cell catches the bacteria it goes about “eating” it in a process called Phagocytosis.

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