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What is Neutrophil?

IVSAT 2024

Neutrophil, known as heterophil or neutrocyte, is the most substantial type of granulocyte, which makes up 55% to 70% of white blood cells in the human body and helps in fighting infections. They are found in the most healthy tissues at various numbers. They form an important part of the immune system, with their functions varying in different organisms. 

They are formed from the stem cells in the bone marrow and are further differentiated into sub-populations of neutrophil killers and neutrophil cagers. Neutrophils are subdivided into segmented neutrophils and banded neutrophils. The name neutrophil is driven from characteristics of Hematoxylin % eosin & histological or preparations. It contains a nucleus divided into 2-5 lobes. Unlike some of the other white blood cells, they aren’t limited to a particular area of circulation. Hence they are important.

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A neutrophil is terminally differentiated; it neither divides nor changes its phenotype after its release from the bone marrow. It starts from myeloblasts, which further mature into promyelocytes, then myelocytes, metamyelocytes, bands, and then finally matures into neutrophils. When neutrophil is released via bone marrow, the life span in the bloodstream is only around 6 hours. In tissues, it is half of it. Neutrophils from the blood can be transported to the sites of infections or inflammation by the leukocyte adhesion cascade procedure.

Neutrophil kinetics involves the movement of neutrophils and neutrophil precursors between the different loops in the bone marrow, the peripheral blood, and tissues. Neutrophil production has been calculated to be on an approximation of between 0.9 and 1.0 × 109 cells/kg per day. The neutrophils which do not migrate into the tissues finally go through programmed cell death or apoptosis and then are removed by macrophages in the bone marrow and the liver.

Neutrophils Normal Range

Normal neutrophil range depends on various factors such as age, gender, instruments used during testing, etc. In an ANC test, adult normal count lies between 1500-8000 neutrophils/ml. It is measured in microliters and is only approximate. The normal adult range of White blood cells is 1% of total blood volume.

High and Low Neutrophil Count

Neutrophils' high count is called neutrophilia; it can be caused by a lot of different conditions such as infections. It might be high due to infections due to increased bone marrow production due to stressful situations. Mostly bacterial infections cause a high count. Fungal & parasitic infections cause neutrophilia too. A high count is higher than 8000 neutrophils/ml.

A low neutrophils count is called neutropenia. It is a frequent but common side effect of chemotherapy. It may make you more likely to get infected. On the other hand, it might be low due to diseases in conditions such as leukemia, vitamin B12 deficiency. Antibody-coated neutrophils are further eliminated by spleen, liver, and lungs prevailing in neutropenia. Having severe neutropenia can cause serious infections even from normal bacteria on your body. Neutrophils count less than 1000 neutrophils/MicroL is said to be neutropenia, count lesser than 500 neutrophils/MicroL is considered to be severe neutropenia.


Features of Neutrophils

  • The presence of fully functional neutrophils in tissues is crucial for the protection against microbial infections.

  • Three main antimicrobial objectives are classified for neutrophils- phagocytosis, degranulation, and release of nuclear material in the mold of neutrophil extracellular traps.

  • They can ingest and kill invading microorganisms intracellularly by phagocytosis and the subsequent fusion of the phagosome by lysosomes containing antimicrobial peptides, enzymes, and reactive oxygen intermediates (ROI). Neutrophils can also kill microbes extracellularly by the release of antimicrobial peptides and enzymes stored in their granules.

  • When microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses enter the body, neutrophils are one of the first immune cells to respond to the threat.

  • A neutrophil is a type of phagocyte and is found in the bloodstream.

  • They are one of the first responders of inflammatory cells to migrate towards the part of inflammation.

  • They can move freely inside the walls of veins and into the tissues of your body to immediately attack all the antigens; Examples of antigens include bacteria, viruses, fungi, poisons, cancer cells etc.

  • After being dismissed from the bone marrow, about half of these cells are present along the walls of blood vessels, and the other half is set up in tissues of the body.

  • Neutrophils deal with foreign infections by devouring them, a process referred to as phagocytosis, or by taking them up into the cell itself in the procedure called endocytosis. Once the foreign infection enters the cell, it is attacked with enzymes that result in the infectious disease's destruction.

Segmented Neutrophils

The majority of neutrophils have three nuclear segments connected by taping chromatin strands. A small percentage have only four lobes; five lobes are seen rarely. Up to 8% of circulating neutrophils are unsegmented or in band form.

Symptoms of Neutrophilia or High Neutrophils Symptoms

Neutrophilia can point to several underlying factors and diseases such as bacterial infections, noninfectious inflammation, high-stress level etc.

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FAQs on Neutrophil

1. What is a neutrophil blood test? 

Ans: A doctor needs an ANC(absolute neutrophil count) test to analyse if the count is low or high. This test is usually done as a part of a CBC(Complete blood count) test; this test reports how many of each type of white blood cell is present in your blood, whereas ANC deciphers how many neutrophils are in your blood. In addition, it indicates the levels of neutrophils to help doctors recommend medications and treatments for the concerned patients.

2. What is the lifespan of neutrophils?

Ans: The differentiation and maturation of a neutrophil are quite complicated, as it takes approximately 14 days in the bone marrow. Despite this, a neutrophil has a short lifespan in blood circulation, which is said to be less than 24 hours. Therefore, they are naturally programmed to expire by constitutive apoptosis. Apoptosis is a conserved mechanism of programmed death of a cell.

Manipulation of the life cycle of a neutrophil may be strategic for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. The bone marrow shelters a huge, always active granulopoiesis compartment. During infections, more neutrophils are needed, the bone marrow has some stored capacity to scale up the production.

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