If, somehow, a microbe or cancer cell has survived the oxidative burst and phagocytosis, it will not survive the death chamber. Once eaten, internalized, and embedded in the macrophage’s cytoplasm, the enemy is imprisoned in a round cyst-like bubble inside the macrophage (called a phagolysosome) into which are squirted all sorts of digestive enzymes and many more rounds of oxidative burst, just for good measure. Pretty things do not happen inside of phagolysosomes. If the cancer cell or microbe is not already dead, the phagolysosome “death chamber” will certainly polish it off. (“Phago” means “to eat.” “Lyso” means “to dissolve.” “Some” means “sack” or “bag.”)
Once the dismembering process is complete, the phagolysosome slides over and makes contact with the outer cell membrane, merges with it, then disgorges the now harmless breakdown products (nucleic acids, fatty acids, amino acids, etc.) out into the extracellular fluid. They are then taken up by nearby cells and recycled into new body parts.
The ecologically-minded among us should find the efficiency of this process commendable. Nothing is wasted. Scary toxic bad guys are killed, dismantled, and transformed into spare parts for the good guys: us.A sophisticated communication system