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What are Eosinophils?

Eosinophils are the type of white blood cells also known as leukocytes found in our bodies. The eosinophils are categorized under the group of granulocytic cells, these groups of cells include neutrophils, basophil, and eosinophil. Eosinophil is a bilobed structure, that is they have a bilobed nucleus, have a granulated cytoplasm. The granular structure of the cytoplasm is the common feature of all the cells of this category. The granulated cytoplasm gets stained by eosin, giving red color stain to the cytoplasm. The staining method used is the Romanowski method. This is the reason behind the name “eosinophil”. 

Eosinophils meaning can be described as the motile phagocytic cell which is involved in an immune response, despite being phagocytic in nature they are not major phagocytic cells of the body rather they play a vital role in defense against parasitic infection. The granule of the eosinophil contains a lytic enzyme that can damage the pathogen’s membrane. They also improve host defence against nematodes. Eosinophils are also involved in the inflammatory response, increased eosinophils cause damage to the host immune system.

Features of Eosinophil

There are the following feature of an eosinophil, they are listed as follows:

  1. They are granulocytic phagocytic cell

  2. They have acidic cytoplasm, eosine is the dye used for staining.

  3. They have a diameter of 8 micrometres.

  4. They constitute 1 to 5% of total leukocytes

  5. They play a major role in the immune response of the host against endoparasitic infection such as schistosomiasis and helminthic.

  6. They are derived from Hematopoietic Stem Cell (HSC) of myeloid progenitor lineage. 

  7. They have membrane-bound IgG and IgE receptors.

  8. Differentiation and development of eosinophil from a myeloid progenitor in the bone marrow are governed by  SCF, IL-3, IL-4, GM-CSF, and CCL11. 

  9. IL-5 and CCL11 act in coordination for final differentiation, maturation, and release of eosinophil into the bloodstream.

  10.  The granular contents are released during the immune response.

Eosinophil Granular Content

The cytoplasmic granule of the eosinophil is the key enzyme responsible for the functioning of eosinophil. The granule contains the following:

1. Mazor Basic Protein- Also known as MBP, is a protein that induces the mast cell as well as basophil degranulation. These proteins are also involved in peripheral nerve remodelling.

2. Eosinophil Cationic Protein- These are the proteins (ECP) that are responsible for creating pores in the membrane of the pathogen. The pore formation is important as it allows the cytotoxic molecule of the host to enter the pathogen’s body to cause cell lysis by membrane disintegration. It induces fibroblast to secrete glycosaminoglycan. It also suppresses antibody product and T-cell proliferation

3. Eosinophil Peroxidase- Also known as (ECP), it promotes the formation of reactive oxygen species and reactive nitrogen species intermediates. The formation of these compounds in the pathogen body creates oxidative stress in the pathogen which leads to cell death by apoptosis and necrosis. 

4. Eosinophil-Derived Neurotoxin - These are RNAse with antiviral activity. They generally shut the transcription machinery of the pathogen.

Functions of Eosinophil

There are the following functions of the eosinophil cell, 

  1. They act to remove fibrin during inflammation.

  2. They are involved in neoplasia

  3. They are posted pubertal growth of the mammary gland

  4. They are involved in asthma, an increase in absolute eosinophil count is the major cause of asthma

  5. Absolute eosinophil count is used for the diagnosis of diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome, eczema, and leukemia.

  6. They are involved in inflammatory response

  7. They also act as the antigen-presenting cell to T- cell

  8. They are involved in allograft rejection during raft transplantation.

  9. They are major effector cell, the effector function includes the production of the following compounds-

  • They produce the following cytokines  IL-1, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-13.

  • They are involved in the production of TNF alpha (Tumor Necrosis Factor)

  • They produce growth factors

  • They produce elastase

  • They are also involved in the production of lipid mediators like eicosanoids from the leukotriene (e.g., LTC4, LTD4, LTE4) and prostaglandin.


It is a condition in which the absolute eosinophil count in blood is higher than normal conditions.

Absolute eosinophil count is a blood test in which the concentration of a cell is measured. A person has more than 500 eosinophils per microliter, the person is diagnosed with eosinophilia. 

Increased eosinophil number can be an indicator of the following conditions like Acute hypereosinophilic syndrome, eczema (skin disorder, itchy or inflamed skin), asthma, or hay fever, it also a sign of various autoimmune disorders. Eosinophilia is also an indicator of leukemia, it is also used as a diagnosis for the early stages of Cushing’s disease, it is a disorder where the cortisol hormone concentration is higher than normal.

Eosinophils’ low count or low concentration can be attributed as the result of intoxication from alcohol. If a person is suffering from Cushing’s syndrome they too have abnormally low counts of eosinophil. Generally, low levels of eosinophils are not considered life-threatening conditions unless all the other white cell counts are also abnormally low. Such conditions generally arise due to abnormality or disorder in the bone marrow. 

Eosinophilic conditions in the body include eosinophilic esophagitis, a disorder of the alimentary canal specifically the esophagus, this is generally referred to as esophageal eosinophilia. Another condition is eosinophilic colitis, which is the eosinophilia of the large intestine. It can occur in various organs but these are the most common that suffer from eosinophilia.

Interpretation of Test Result

The normal concentration of eosinophilia in the body is about 0.0 to 6.0%. The absolute eosinophil count can be calculated by the eosinophil number in blood multiplied by the total white blood cell count. On average the normal concentration range is from 30- 35. If the concentration is above 500, an eosinophilic condition is diagnosed. It is also categorized as mild, moderate, and severe. It has a concentration range from  500–1,500 eosinophil cells per microliter for mild, moderate has a range of 1,500 to 5,000 eosinophil cells per microliter, and severe greater than 5,000 eosinophil cells per microliter.

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FAQs on Eosinophil

1. State the Eosinophils Meaning and the Function of Eosinophils.

Ans- It is a type of granulocytic white blood cell. They play an important function in a hypersensitive reaction as well as host immune response against endoparasitic infections. They are also involved in the inflammatory response.

2. State Some Reason For Eosinophils’ Low Count in the Body.

Ans- the low count of eosinophil can be due to alcohol abuse. Another reason is also due to the overproduction of the cortisol hormone.

3. State the Name of Dye Used For Staining Eosinophil.

Ans- Eosine is the dye that is being used, it gives the red colour to the cytoplasm of the cell. It is an acidic dye.