Segmented neutrophils: what are they and when are they altered?

Segmented neutrophils are a group of immune system cells that are involved in protecting the body against foreign agents. Measuring its levels is useful in medical diagnosis.

Last update: 25 February, 2022

White blood cells or leukocytes are immune cells that participate in the defense and protection of the human body. This family is made up of neutrophils, basophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes. But what are segmented neutrophils?

Neutrophils, along with basophils and eosinophils, form a group of leukocytes called granulocytes or polymorphonuclear (PMN). Studies estimate that these are the main phagocytic cell found in the blood and constitute 50% to 70% of all white blood cells.

What are segmented neutrophils?

Neutrophils are considered the first line of cellular defense against germs and foreign bodies. These are produced in the bone marrow by a process called phagocytopoiesis. Subsequently, they pass into the blood circulation, to complete a half-life of 2 to 3 days.

Science states that there are two forms of neutrophils in the human body. Segmented neutrophils are the mature variant.acting directly on the tissues to fight infections.

On the other hand, band neutrophils are an immature form that accumulates in the bone marrow as a reserve. Similarly, this type of neutrophils tends to increase their presence in blood in the event of an infectious process of bacterial origin.

Neutrophils are one of the groups that make up white blood cells.

How are they measured and what are the normal values?

Neutrophil levels are determined by a white blood cell differential, as part of a complete blood count (CBC). This test is done through a blood sample taken through a finger prick or by venous blood draw.

The collected blood sample is entered into a machine called a hematology analyzer. It has the ability to identify, classify and count each of the cells that make up the blood.

As usual, the normal concentration of leukocytes in the blood is 4,500 to 11,000 cells per microliter of blood. From this result, it is possible to obtain a differential count of each of the types of white cells that make up this group.

Normal values ​​for segmented neutrophils in blood range from 1,800 to 7,700 cells per microliter.. This, considering that neutrophils represent 50% to 70% of white blood cells, as already highlighted.

When are segmented neutrophils altered?

The segmented neutrophil count is very useful in identifying acute or chronic diseases that compromise the health of the body. High neutrophils orient toward infectious processeswhile their decrease is associated with a malfunction of the immune system.

Elevated neutrophils

The rise in the concentration of neutrophils in the blood is called neutrophilia. Research affirms that this is defined as an absolute number of neutrophils greater than 7,500 cells per microliter of blood.

Some of the most common causes of high segmented neutrophils are as follows:

  • Eclampsia.
  • Burns.
  • Intense exercise.
  • Bacterial infections.
  • Liver damage and necrosis.
  • Acute bleeding.
  • Emotional and metabolic stress.
  • Inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Other less common causes include myeloproliferative syndromes, chronic myeloid leukemia, metastatic infiltration, and myelofibrosis. For its part, the neutrophil count greater than 50,000 cells per microliter is called leukemoid reaction and can be seen in whooping cough and infectious mononucleosis.

low neutrophils

The decrease in neutrophil levels is called neutropenia and occurs when the count falls below 1,500 cells per microliter of blood. Neutropenia can be mild, moderate, or severe and is associated with a high risk of infection.

Among the most frequent causes are the following:

  • Aplastic or megaloblastic anemia.
  • Chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Sepsis.
  • hypersplenism.
  • hypothyroidism
  • Myelofibrosis.
  • Cirrhosis.
Low blood neutrophils require extreme precautions due to the possibility of contracting a serious infection.

When to seek medical attention?

An abnormal segmented neutrophil count is a warning sign. It indicates that something is wrong with the body. The causes of these variations are very broad and range from bacterial and viral infections to autoimmune and degenerative processes.

Fever, rapid pulse, rapid breathing, vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms that point to a possible infectious process. On the other hand, in the presence of difficulty breathing, signs of dehydration and loss of consciousness, attention should be sought as soon as possible.

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