White Blood Cells
White blood cell, also called leukocyte or white corpuscle, a cellular component of the blood that lacks hemoglobin, has a nucleus, is capable of motility, and defends the body against infection and disease by ingesting foreign materials and cellular debris, by destroying infectious agents and cancer cells, or by producing antibodies.
Stem cells in the bone marrow are responsible for producing white blood cells. The bone marrow then stores an estimated 80–90% of white blood cells.
Our white blood cells are stored in different places in the body, which are referred to as lymphoid organs. These include the following:
- Bone marrow
- Lymph nodes
Granulocytes are white blood cells that have small granules containing proteins. There are three types of granulocyte cells:
- Basophils: These represent less than 1% of white blood cells in the body and are typically present in increased numbers after an allergic reaction.
- Eosinophils: These are responsible for responding to infections that parasites cause. They also play a role in the general immune response, as well as the inflammatory response, in the body.
- Neutrophils: These represent the majority of white blood cells in the body. They act as scavengers, helping surround and destroy bacteria and fungi that may be present in the body.
- Lymphocytes Lymphocytes help the body to remember previous invaders and recognize them if they come back to attack again. Lymphocytes begin their life in bone marrow. Some stay in the marrow and develop into B lymphocytes (B cells), others head to the thymus and become T lymphocytes (T cells). These two cell types have different roles:
- B lymphocytes — they produce antibodies and help alert the T lymphocytes.
- T lymphocytes — they destroy compromised cells in the body.
Symptoms of an abnormal WBC count
Low white blood cell count
If a person’s body is producing fewer white blood cells be, doctors call this condition is known as Leukopenia.
Conditions that can cause leukopenia include:
- Lupus and HIV
- Bone marrow disorders
- Vitamin B-12 deficiencies
If a person’s body is producing more white blood cells than this condition is known as leukocytosis.
A high white blood cell count may indicate the following medical conditions:
- Allergic responses, such as due to an asthma attack
- Burns, heart attack, and trauma
- Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, or vasculitis
- Infections, such as with bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites