Can white blood cells “lose” to a germ in “combat”?


I have heard infection talked about like a tiny war but do the germs attack and kill the white blood cells? Do they fight back?

In: 4

Yes, there is a fight between the immune susyem and invading germs or pathogens or foreign bodies and, yes, the white blood cells can lose.

When a person dies from disease the immune system has lost.

Pus around an infected cut is mostly white blood cells.

When the white blood cells lose the fight, it looks nasty and discolored.

When the white blood cells are winning, the pus looks white.

HIV attacks and kills a specific type of white blood cell called CD4+. And there are other pathogens that will attack bone marrow to reduce the bodies ability to produce an immune response. Most others just win by sheer overwhelming numbers or system wide organ shutdown (through toxins or organ damage).

Thinking of it in terms of “combat” or “fighting” might be a little misleading, but yes, white blood cells can “lose.” HIV in particular is a virus that defeats white blood cells. The white blood cells, specifically a type of white blood cell called a CD4+ cell, tries to bind to the HIV particle to deactivate it, but the HIV actually enters the CD4+ cell and hijacks it to produce more copies of the virus, breaking the cell apart and killing it in the process.

I’ve seen a few of these comments not quite answering how you hoped they would, so I’ll give it a crack.

In short yes, WBCs (Neutrophils, Macrophages) often die when interacting with fighting foreign bodies (germs).

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, when these cells die they release chemicals which attract even more WBCs to the site of infection – which is an important part of the body’s immune response.

You asked in another comment about MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) which is PARTICULARLY good at killing nearby White Blood Cells (particularly neutrophils), and also secreting enzymes which make neutrophils less dangerous.