A powerful weapon possessed by a Macrophage weapon is the “oxidative burst” (also widely known as the “respiratory burst”). An enzyme (called NADPH oxidase) stationed in the Macrophage’s outer membrane sprays out a beam of highly reactive free electrons, like bullets from a machine gun.
The NADPH gun emits a particle beam that blast tumour cells and microbes to smithereens. The electrons in the beam emerge one at a time, but they really really don’t want to be “free,” so—as fast as they possibly can—they snatch another electron to form a stable pair (we are talking nanoseconds here). A chain reaction of electron-snatchings triggered by the oxidative burst literally vaporizes molecules in the outer wall of a cancer cell or viral capsid, ripping holes in it.
Now the membrane that held the victim together literally falls apart, spilling out its contents. Without an intact outer membrane, a cancer cell can’t survive for very long. Oxidative bursts don’t happen all of the time. That would be a waste of firepower. The “trigger” that turns it on is the perceived proximity of a “foe,” a cancer cell, HIV virus, hepatitis virus, or a bacterium. When a macro comes into immediate contact with “enemy,” then—and only then—does it turn on the electron death beam.
There are lots of oxygen (O2) molecules everywhere in our bodies. (We need plenty of oxygen and glucose, the “fuels” from which we generate the “energy” that drives all of the cellular chemical reactions that make life possible.) When released, most of the electrons in the death ray beam crash into one of these omnipresent oxygen molecules, from which they quickly grab the electron they need to make a stable pair. The oxygen molecule now is missing one of its electrons, and is thus transformed into the violently corrosive free radical known as “superoxide” (O2-). Now superoxide is the one wanting an electron, and it will destroy anything in its path to get one. That “anything” would be the virus, bacterium, or cancer cell our macro has grabbed with its pseudopod. Suddenly the invader finds itself with a huge hole in its outer membrane. It’ll die soon.
The free electrons and superoxides also trigger chain reactions forming other reactive free radical species. One of these is the hydroxyl ion (OH-). This is hydrogen peroxide, just like the stuff that comes out of that brown bottle, but 33 times as potent—a locally generated intercellular dose. Perfect for frying microbes and tumor cells.
By oxidizing omnipresent chlorine atoms, the electron beam also generates noxious hypochlorous acid (HClO), which can poke a hole in an enemy membrane in nothing flat. Now we have a toxic soup of free radical oxidizing agents that can do tremendous local damage to our enemies.
MAF Activated Macrophages and the “Oxidative Burst”
Only MAF activated macrophages are going to deliver oxidative bursts that are potent enough to be effective. If Nagalase from viruses or cancer cells has put the macrophages to sleep, the oxidative burst degenerates into a piddly potato gun that’s not going to hurt anybody. Firepower—or lack thereof—is what we are talking about here. Activated macrophages fire the atomic equivalent of millions of rounds a second and never have to pause to reload.