Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

In 2017 we celebrated five years of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science

Brave Blood
03 November 2012

Brave Blood

Like a fast-flowing river, the bloodstream carries white blood cells – the first responders of our immune system, also called leucocytes – to areas of infection in the body. This high-speed journey is fraught with danger. To prevent the currents from washing the leucocytes away once they arrive, they do what any salty sea dog would – drop their anchors. The leucocytes pictured here (the largest of which is 2,000 times smaller than a Fisherman’s Friend) were scattered over a man-made surface similar to the lining of a blood vessel and then blasted with fast-flowing liquid to simulate the bloodstream. Prickly anchors developed immediately to tether the base of the cell to the vessel-like floor. Only after a dramatic voyage inside our blood vessels can the job of the leucocytes really begin, penetrating through the vessel lining on a mission to tackle a nearby infection.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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