Drosophila blood cells

Cell Microbiol. 2003 Sep;5(9):573-80. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2003.00302.x.


Drosophila blood cells or haemocytes belong to three lineages: plasmatocytes, crystal cells and lamellocytes. There is no equivalent of a lymphoid lineage in insects which have no adaptive immunity. Haematopoiesis is under the control of a number of transcription factors and signalling pathways (such as GATA factors, JAK/STAT or Notch pathways) most of which have homologues which participate in the control of mammalian haematopoiesis. Drosophila plasmatocytes are professional phagocytes reminiscent of the cells from the mammalian monocyte/macrophage lineage. Several receptors responsible for recognition of microorganisms or apoptotic corpses have been identified, which include a Scavenger Receptor, a CD36 homologue and a peptidoglycan recognition protein. Crystal cells contain the enzymes necessary for humoral melanization that accompanies a number of immune reactions. The production of melanin generates, as by-products, cytotoxic free radicals that are believed to participate in the killing of pathogens. Finally, lamellocytes represent a cell type that specifically differentiates after parasitism of Drosophila larvae and forms a capsule around the invader. Encapsulation together with melanization eventually kill the parasite within the capsule.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster / cytology
  • Drosophila melanogaster / physiology*
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Hemocytes / physiology*
  • Hemocytes / ultrastructure
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Drosophila Proteins