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Published on Oct 8, 2008
Crawling Neutrophil chasing a Bacterium (Un glóbulo blanco persigue a una bacteria)
White blood cells, or leukocytes, are cells of the immune system defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. Several different and diverse types of leukocytes exist, but they are all produced and derived from a multipotent cell in the bone marrow known as a hematopoietic stem cell. Leukocytes are found throughout the body, including the blood and lymphatic system.
The number of leukocytes in the blood is often an indicator of disease. There are normally between 4×109 and 11×109 white blood cells in a litre of blood, making up approximately 1% of blood in a healthy adult. In conditions such as leukemia, the number of leukocytes is higher than normal, and in leukopenia, this number is much lower. The physical properties of leukocytes, such as volume, conductivity, and granularity, may change due to activation, the presence of immature cells, or the presence of malignant leukocytes in leukemia.
Neutrophils defend against bacterial or fungal infection and other very small inflammatory processes that are usually first responders to microbial infection; their activity and death in large numbers forms pus. They are also known as polymorphonuclear leukocytes. They have a multilobed nucleus which may appear like multiple nuclei, hence the name polymorphonuclear leukocyte. The cytoplasm may look transparent because of fine granules that are faintly pink in color. Neutrophils are very active in phagocytosing bacteria and are present in large amount in the pus of wounds. These cells are not able to renew their lysosomes used in digesting microbes and die after having phagocytosed a few pathogens.