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The macrophage.

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About this work


Dr Ian Carr lectures on one of the most important phagocytic cells, the macrophage. Macrophages are white blood cells found within tissues, produced by the division of monocytes. Their main function is the engulfment and digestion of cellular debris and pathogens. Here, Wall focuses on four main points about the cell: what it looks like; where it be found - its origins and circulation; how it works at a cellular level to ingest foreign material; and what its main role is in bodily function.


London : University of London Audio-Visual Centre, 1975.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (37.16 min.) : sound, black and white.




Copyright note

University of London

Terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Presented by Dr Ian Carr, University of Sheffield and Weston Park Hospital. Film sequences of macrophages in culture made by Professor F Jacoby, Department of Anatomy, University College Cardiff. Produced by Trevor A Scott. Made for British Postgraduate Medical Federation. Made by University of London Audio-Visual Centre.


This video is one of around 310 titles, originally broadcast on Channel 7 of the ILEA closed-circuit television network, given to Wellcome Trust from the University of London Audio-Visual Centre shortly after it closed in the late 1980s. Although some of these programmes might now seem rather out-dated, they probably represent the largest and most diversified body of medical video produced in any British university at this time, and give a comprehensive and fascinating view of the state of medical and surgical research and practice in the 1970s and 1980s, thus constituting a contemporary medical-historical archive of great interest. The lectures mostly take place in a small and intimate studio setting and are often face-to-face. The lecturers use a wide variety of resources to illustrate their points, including film clips, slides, graphs, animated diagrams, charts and tables as well as 3-dimensional models and display boards with movable pieces. Some of the lecturers are telegenic while some are clearly less comfortable about being recorded; all are experts in their field and show great enthusiasm to share both the latest research and the historical context of their specialist areas.


Segment 1 Carr, seated, talks to camera. He introduces the macrophage and the four main points the lecture will cover: appearance of macrophages; their location; their function and their role. He shows three short film sequences of macrophage cells. The first shows the cells in action, the second shows them digesting carbon particles and the third shows a macrophage digesting in sequence, surrounded by dead cells. Carr then shows a series of electron micrographs detailing the ultrastructure of the macrophage. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:06:24:20 Length: 00:06:24:20
Segment 2 Carr continues to look at electron micrographs showing the ultrastructure of the macrophage. He describes the structure and appearance of macrophage cells in detail, pointing out their vesicles, granules and microtubules, amongst other things. Time start: 00:06:24:20 Time end: 00:09:50:00 Length: 00:03:25:05
Segment 3 Carr shows a diagram of a human body marked to show where macrophages are most likely to be located. This is followed by a series of diagrams focusing on different organ locations of macropahges. He gives, throughout, detailed descriptions of how macrophages function in these various locations. Carr shows an animated illustration of a dendritic reticular cell which is home to a particular kind of macrophage cell; he describes this and goes on to describe other less common types of macrophage. Time start: 00:09:50:00 Time end: 00:15:38:00 Length: 00:05:48:00
Segment 4 Carr shows an animated diagram detailing the origin and circulation of the macrophage. He explains how they are usually of bone marrow origin but can also arise from cell division in other locations. He shows an electron micropraph of a macrophage with a broken nuclear membrane, revealing the dividing cell. He then shows an illustration and an electron micrograph of pinocytosis (cell digestion) occurring in a macrophage. He explains in detail the process of phagocytosis, the most common way in which macrophages digest other cells or foreign materials. Time start: 00:15:38:00 Time end: 00:20:47:00 Length: 00:05:09:00
Segment 5 Carr continues to discuss the process of phagocytosis in the macrophage cell. He shows an electron micrograph detailing a macrophage during pinocytosis (cell digestion). Carr moves on to discuss the functions of the macrophage, he shows a table summarising these. A micrograph showing a macrophage in a human sarcoid granuloma is shown. Time start: 00:20:47:00 Time end: 00:26:26:00 Length: 00:05:39:00
Segment 6 Carr shows a micrograph of a multinucleate giant cell (a cell seen in the early acute stage of an infection) and describes how macropahages attack these. He then refers to illustrations of different cell types and describes their interaction with macrophage cells. Time start: 00:26:26:00 Time end: 00:29:55:15 Length: 00:03:29:15
Segment 7 Carr talks about how macrophages are involved with iron metabolism; he shows a micrograph of a splenic sinusoid deforming red blood cell - the sort of cell which might lead to anaemia due to lack of iron. He describes how macrophages, in contrast, are key to the transfer of iron from iron stores in the body, to the marrow. Carr describes further functions of the macrophage such as how they interact with human carcinomas. Carr summarises the lecture with a table showing the biological significance of macrophages. Time start: 00:29:55:15 Time end: 00:37:16:10 Length: 00:07:20:20


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