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What to Know About Neutrophils: Definition, Absolute High & Low, Ranges

Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cells. Comprise about 45 to 70% of all white blood cells. Such leukocytes phagocyt, meaning that other cells can ingest, although they do not survive the act. Neutrophils are the first immune to infection reaching a cell, through a process known as chemotaxis.

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Absolute Neutrophil Count

Neutrophils can be divided into bands and segmented neutrophils.The reference range for absolute neutrophil count (ANC) in adults is1500-8000 neutrophils per microliter of blood.

Development of Neutrophil

Low Neutrophil Count

deficiency of neutrophils is called neutropenia and can be congenital or acquired, for example, in certain types of anemia and leukemia, or as a side effect of chemotherapy.
Since neutrophils are such an important part of the immune response, for neutropenia severe, bacteria normally present in the mouth and digestive tract can cause infections.

The neutropenia is an abnormally low number of neutrophils. The neutrophils are the type of leukocyte or white blood cell that helps the immune system fight infections, particularly of bacteria and fungi. Other types of white blood cells, neutrophils but represent between 45 and 70 percent of total leukocytes.

Low Neutrophil Count


The reference range for absolute neutrophil count (ANC) in adults is 1500-8000 cells per microliter of blood. Neutropenia can be classified according to severity:

  • Mild neutropenia (ANC ≤ 1.000 <1.500) – minimal risk of infection
  • Moderate neutropenia (≤ 500 ANC <1,000) – moderate risk of infection
  • Severe neutropenia (ANC <500) – severe risk of infection.


Neutropenia can go undetected, but usually discovered when developed severe infections or sepsis. Some common symptoms include fever and infections that lead to mouth ulcersdiarrheaburning urinationsore throat, etc.


There are many possible causes for an abnormally low neutrophil count. Neutropenia may be caused by a reduced production of neutrophils , which can be caused by:

  • Leukemia. Leukemia is a type of blood cancer in which the bone marrow (tissue that fills the openings of the bones) is replaced by the early forms of white blood cells.
    Damage to the bone marrow . This damage can be caused by infections , drugs and radiation (which is often used to treat cancer).
  • Aplastic anemia. Aplastic anemia is a condition in which there is an abnormal decrease in the cells that form the blood due to bone marrow is not working properly to make these cells.


The diagnosis of neutropenia is done by neutrophils in CBC . When the diagnosis is uncertain, a biopsy may be needed.

The neutropenia in adults is usually defined as a count of 1,700 or fewer neutrophils per microliter of blood. Cell count indicating neutropenia in children varies with age.


The lower the neutrophil count, will be more vulnerable to infectious diseases. If you have severe neutropenia (less than about 500 cells per microliter of blood) bacteria normally present in the mouth and digestive tract can cause infections. The disease is fatal in 30% of cases.

High Neutrophil Count

elevated blood neutrophil levels,a condition known as neutrophilia may indicate an infection or physical stress. An elevated neutrophil count is a sign that something in your body has triggered an immune response.

high level of neutrophils in the blood, a condition known as neutrophilia may indicate the presence of an infection. Neutrophils are white blood cells that play an important role in the immune system.

Neutrophils comprise between 45 and 70 percent of all leukocytes, and are among the first immune cells to reach the site of injury or inflammation.

High Neutrophil Count


The condition itself is asymptomatic. The signs and symptoms, if present, are related to the underlying disease that led to the neutrophilia.


Neutrophils are synthesized in the bone marrow and released into the blood in response to infection or some form of stress. When you are healthy, most of neutrophils that your body remains in the bone marrow. A high blood neutrophil count is a sign that something in your body has triggered an immune response.

Neutrophilia can be caused by an infection, or chronic inflammation disorders such as chronic myeloid leukemia.

  • Infections. Acute infectious diseases such as chickenpox and bacterial infections.
  • Burns.
  • Heart attacks.
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia. Is a disease in which the blood cells proliferate out of control.
  • Medications. Some medications, such as corticosteroids, may also increase the neutrophil as a side effect.
  • Surgery. After surgery, a significant increase of neutrophils can be seen after three hours.
  • Smoking. Snuff consumption has also been associated with neutrophilia.
    Newborns tend to have higher levels of neutrophils for about three days after birth.

Left shift

Doctors speak of a left shift in the WBC with increasing proportion of young percussive neutrophils and neutrophil cells. This, in a nutshell, shows that the body is trying to produce more white blood cells to fight infection or an attack of some kind.

A severe neutrophilia with left shift is considered a leukemoid reaction. A Leukemoid reaction can be caused by medications, infections and bleeding, among other causes.


Neutrophilia is diagnosed with a blood test and microscopic examination. The doctor usually consider the total white blood cell count and distribution in the different types of white blood cells. This allows for a more precise underlying cause neutrophilia diagnosis.


  1. https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/0003-4819-146-7-200704030-00004
  2. https://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1137-66272004000600004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
  3. Mitchell, Richard Sheppard; Kumar, Vinay; Abbas, Abul K .; Fausto, Nelson. Robbins Basic Pathology . Philadelphia: Saunders. ISBN 1-4160-2973-7. 8th edition

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