White blood cell

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White blood cells are an integral part of the bodies immune system, also know as leukocytes, they work as the second line of defence against bacterial and viral infections. White blood cells differentiate from bone marrow stem cells and differentiate into 1 of 5 different types of leukocyte. These are Lymphocytes, Eosinophils, Basophil, Neutrophils and Monocytes; all working together with differing objectives in a fight against infection [1]. Basophils have two main functions; the first action is to release histamine when the body encounters an allergic reaction and they also contain the substance heparin which helps prevent the blood from clotting[2]. Typically, the human body will contain 4500-10000 white blood cells, the number varies depending on the current level of stress on the person and whether they currently have any significant infections. A very low white blood cell count is called leukopenia, this could be caused by bone marrow deficiency or even radiation therapy. Similarly, an exceptionally high white blood cell count is called leukocytosis. This can be caused by anemia, bone marrow tumours and leukemia [3].


  1. Alberts, B. (2005).Molecular Biology of the Cell. 'Leukocyte functions and percentage breakdown'.
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/basophils#what-are-basophils-for2
  3. WBC count. Pubmed Health. February 2011. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004109/
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