The Human Alveolar Macrophage

Gary W. Hunninghake, James E. Gadek, Susan V. Szapiel, Ira J. Strumpf, Oichi Kawanami, Victor J. Ferrans, Brendan A. Keogh, Ronald G. Crystal

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This chapter discusses the different aspects of human alveolar macrophage. Alveolar macrophages are part of a family of mononuclear phagocytic cells that are widely scattered throughout the body. A primary function of alveolar macrophages is to keep the alveolar surfaces of the lung sterile and free of debris. Alveolar macrophages and lung lymphocytes can be obtained directly from lung biopsy specimens by placing the specimens immediately in sterile heparinized saline at 4°C at the time of thorocotomy. One of the critical determinants of the ability of alveolar macrophages to function and/or survive is whether they are attached to a surface or are suspended in a fluid. Macrophages attached to a surface synthesize greater amounts of protein for longer periods of time and are more efficient at phagocytosis than suspended cells. The ability of the alveolar macrophage to ingest and kill microorganisms has been demonstrated in vivo and in vitro in many types of animal models. The alveolar macrophage may also function to remove various abnormal cells in its environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalMethods in Cell Biology
Issue numberC
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1980


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Hunninghake, G. W., Gadek, J. E., Szapiel, S. V., Strumpf, I. J., Kawanami, O., Ferrans, V. J., Keogh, B. A., & Crystal, R. G. (1980). The Human Alveolar Macrophage. Methods in Cell Biology, 21(C), 95-112.