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A histiocyte is a type of immune cell that destroys foreign substances in an effort to protect the body from infection.


Histiocytes do not travel through the blood. Instead, they remain in one part of the body.

Histiocytes are found in many organs and tissues, including the:

  • Brain
  • Breast tissue
  • Liver
  • Lymph nodes
  • Placenta
  • Spleen
  • Tonsils

An abnormal number of histiocytes leads to a disease called Langerhan's cell histiocyosis (previously called histiocytosis X).

Alternative Names



Goronzy JJ, Weyand CM. The innate and adaptive immune systems. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 44.

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Update Date 5/16/2014