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What is the difference between phagocytosis and pinocytosis??

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Dear student,

Pinocytosis vs Phagocytosis

Pinocytosis and phagocytosis both fall under endocytosis which refer to the uptake of bulk material by the formation of a vesicle through the plasma membrane. A membrane-bound droplet located inside the cytoplasm of a cell is called a vesicle where a portion of the membrane of the cell encloses around a droplet or a particle. Later this will fuse so that the droplet or particle is surrounded by the cell membrane. After that, the droplet is brought within the cytoplasm of the cell by way of “pinching” the droplet that is surrounded by the membrane leaving an intact plasma membrane later on.

Cells are considered to be the basic unit of life which are mainly responsible for the life processes to occur. Almost all living creatures are made up of trillions of cells. They are known as multicellular organisms which include human beings, plants, and animals. But there are some exceptions. Protozoa and bacteria consist only of one cell hence they are known as unicellular organisms. Whether an organism is unicellular or multicellular, cells will still undergo the same processes as they should be. Millions of biochemical reactions are being carried out by the cells in one full minute in order for them to replicate new cells for the propagation of life. It is a must for us to have even the slightest idea on how cells work in order to understand how they function and grow. Cellular function may seem to have some complexities, hence some notable differences are being noted here for us to better understand these two cellular processes.

Cell eating is also known as phagocytosis when a cell engulfs a solid particle. When it engulfs certain particles, the cytoplasm spreads out. Examples of cells that phagocytise cell debris, foreign particles, and bacteria are the white blood cells. Through phagocytosis, harmful substances are being prevented from getting inside the system since they are being destroyed throughout the process. Hence, phagocytosis plays an important role in keeping our immunity intact.

Pinocytosis, on the other hand, is also known as “cell drinking” or ingestion of extracellular fluid (ECF). Much smaller vesicles are formed in pinocytosis compared to phagocytosis since it only ingests water plus minute substances rather than large particles that are solid. “Invagination” is the term used in pinocytosis to form a vesicle that is formed inside the cell. The typical transport mechanism that takes place in our liver cells, kidney cells, capillary cells, and those cells that line the epithelium is also pinocytosis.

In phagocytosis, there is what we call “pseudopodia” or the feet-like structures which extend to swallow up solid particles to be taken into the cells. In contrast, “invagination” is the process which happens during pinocytosis. Another difference is that in phagocytosis there is a need for the solid particles to be broken down into much simpler substances with the aid of enzymes within the cell for cellular absorption to occur. However, in pinocytosis there is no conversion needed since it already ingested a dissolved substance which is ready for cellular absorption.


1.Phagocytosis is cell eating while pinocytosis is cell drinking.
2.Phagocytosis has larger vesicles over pinocytosis.
3.Phagocytosis engulfs much larger particles than pinocytosis.
4.“Pseudopodia” happens in phagocytosis while “invagination” happens in pinocytosis.
5.In phagocytosis, particles must be broken down into simpler substances for absorption whereas in pinocytosis the substances being ingested can readily be absorbed

Hope it helps

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