Force for Health® Human Page – Tuberculosis: Infected Alveolar Macrophage
Tuberculosis (or TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs. Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis bacteria) are inhaled and enter the alveoli in the lungs.
A tuberculosis infection begins when alveolar macrophages (immune cells) come in contact with the bacteria in the alveoli. The macrophage engulfs the bacteria by a process called phagocytosis. Once the bacteria are inside the macrophage, the cell tries to destroy them with digestive enzymes contained in structures called lysosomes. However, the tuberculosis bacteria is able to prevent itself from coming into contact with the lysosomes.
Because the macrophage cannot destroy the tuberculosis bacteria, the bacteria are able to reproduce and spread within the lung.
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