Macrophages are a cornerstone in innate immunity, especially important in detecting and killing invading microorganisms. In tumor biology, the macrophages can contribute both to anti-tumor activity and tumor promotion depending on individual tumor microenvironment and therefore have a large impact on both tumor progression and prognosis. Two of the most important functions of macrophages are the ability to phagocytose microorganisms and then kill them through the respiratory burst. Phagocytosis activates the respiratory burst, but the more subtle interactions between these processes are less known. Since phagocytosis and reactive oxygen species production are two attributes that change between the classically and alternatively activated macrophages we decided to compare these two functions in macrophages. Activation of macrophages varies in terms of stimuli and effects. We specifically looked at macrophage activation by tumor cell lines and by chemical stimulation due to caffeine. We hypothesized that the level of oxidation would be directly linked to the level of phagocytosis. We assume that caffeine will increase activity in macrophages and that tumor cell co-incubation will decrease it. We found that there is a high correlation between the level of engulfment and level of respiratory burst. Chemical stimulation with caffeine can lower aggressiveness of macrophages at lower concentration, raise it at higher concentrations and eventually become toxic to the cell. Co-incubation with leukemic cell lines, as well with necrotic cells, affected an increase in aggressiveness.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Microbiology and Molecular Biology



Date Submitted


Document Type





macrophage, M1, M2, phagocytosis, respiratory burst, reactive oxygen species, caffeine, engulfment, rhodamine

Included in

Microbiology Commons