Posted September 13, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 4 min read

Basophils are one of the several kinds of white blood cells you have in your body. These blood cells make up less than 1% of all of your circulating white blood cells and are the least abundant in all mammals.

What Are the Properties of Basophils?

There are five kinds of white blood cells in your body, also called leukocytes. These cells, listed from most present to least, are:

  • Neutrophils

  • Lymphocytes (B cells and T cells)

  • Monocytes

  • Eosinophils

  • Basophils

White blood cells are made inside your bone marrow and can be found in your blood and lymph tissues. White blood cells help your body fight off infections and illnesses.

  • Basophils were first identified in 1879 by researcher Paul Ehrlich. Because basophils aren’t as abundant as other blood cells in humans, scientists at the time thought that they didn’t have much importance.

  • However, around 100 years later, it was noted that there are a few different functions of basophils.

  • Basophils have a short life span, usually only one or two days. Because of this, research on basophils was often difficult in the past.

  • These white blood cells are mononuclear cells, so they have one round nucleus. Basophils are also granulocytes, or white blood cells that have granules, or small particles, attached to them.

  • These small particles are filled with enzymes, like histamine, that are released during allergic reactions.

  • Basophils are the only white blood cells circulating around your body that contain histamine.

  • During an allergic reaction, histamine is responsible for many of the typical symptoms of allergies, like a runny nose or sneezing.

What are the Functions of Basophils?

  • The role of basophils was poorly understood for a long time.

  • However, research now shows that basophils function similarly to mast cells.

  • These are white blood cells that are found in the connective tissues throughout your body.

  • Basophils play a part in immune surveillance.

  • This means they have the ability to help detect and destroy some early cancer cells. Another important function of basophils is that they release the histamine in their granules during an allergic reaction or asthma attack.

  • When your body has an allergic reaction to something, basophils are called upon to react to the inflamed or affected part of the body.

  • To help fight symptoms of an allergic reaction, you can take antihistamine medications.

  • While these white blood cells are mainly known for causing allergic reactions in people, another function of basophils is to help protect the body.

They help protect against:

  • Microbial pathogens

  • Viruses

  • Helminths, or parasitic worms that infect your gastrointestinal tract

  • Venoms from some snakes, scorpions, Gilas, and honeybees

What is meant by high basophil level?

Higher levels of basophils are linked to certain conditions or basophilic disorders. If your percentage is higher than normal, the cause could be one of the following:

  • Chickenpox

  • Allergic reaction

  • Collagen vascular disease

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia, a kind of bone marrow cancer

  • Bone marrow diseases

  • Hyperthyroidism

What is meant by Low basophil level?

Low levels of basophils can indicate other basophilic disorders. Some of these include:

  • Cancer

  • Acute infection

  • A serious injury

  • Thyrotoxicosis, a thyroid disorder

What are common tests to check the health of my basophil cells?

Two tests that specifically identify the health of your basophils include:

  • Absolute basophil count: An absolute basophil count identifies how many basophils are present in a sample of your blood. The calculation for an absolute basophil count multiplies the percentage of basophils from a complete blood count by the total number of white blood cells from the same count. The results from this test identify whether or not your basophil count is too high, normal or too low.

  • Bone marrow biopsy: Your healthcare provider will insert a large needle into your bone marrow to extract a small sample. Then they will examine it to verify the quantity and quality of your cells based on where they form.

What are common treatments for basophil conditions?

Common treatments for basophil conditions include:

  • Avoiding allergens or taking antihistamines.

  • Changing dosage or timing of medications under your healthcare provider’s direction.

  • Treating any underlying medical conditions.

  • Treating infections and injuries.

diseases disorders basophils

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