Basophils are one of the subgroups of white blood cells, making up about 1% of these blood cells. Basophils are closely associated with allergic diseases, allergies, as well as parasites and inflammation in the body. What does it mean when the number of basophils in the blood is increased, and what if it is decreased? What are the basophil norms? We will answer in this article.

Basophils – what are they?

Basophils were first described in 1879. These cells make up approximately 1% of all white blood cells (WBCs), and on average, 1 μL of blood contains 150–300 basophils. Basophils are cells active in processes associated with inflammation and allergies. They are also activated when a parasitic disease occurs. Basophils are a kind of buffer and regulator of immune processes.

As for the appearance of basophils, it is quite characteristic: they are granular, granular cells with a cell nucleus and numerous round “grains” in the cytoplasm. Basophil has a diameter of 7–11 microns. The mentioned “grains” in basophils are mainly depots of compounds such as histamine, catholicizing (an anti-infective protein), prostaglandins, leukotrienes and heparin sulfate (a substance similar to heparin that inhibits blood clotting processes). Basophils do not live long, only 2–5 days. They are formed in the bone marrow, like other elements of the blood.

Basophils – functions in the human body

Basophils function primarily by breaking down the “granules” found inside them and releasing various types of compounds from them. This usually occurs when foreign microorganisms – viruses, bacteria, parasites – enter the body. This is an activity within the human innate immune system. Moreover, basophils stimulate the synthesis and secretion of interleukin (anti-inflammatory factors), as well as Th2 lymphocytes – this is an element of the so-called acquired immunity.

To summarize, we can say that basophils are mainly involved in the reactions:

  • antibacterial,
  • antiparasitic,
  • allergic.

Basophils – normal (in children and adults)

The norm of basophils in both children and adults is the same – it should be up to 300 basophils in microliters of blood, which corresponds to 0-1% of all leukocytes. It is worth emphasizing that the norms of basophils for a newborn are different – in the first few days after birth, the number of basophils can be increased (up to 2.5% of all leukocytes).

Basophils – increased

The number of basophils above the upper limit of normal is called basocytosis. Most often, an increased level of basophils can be a consequence of:

Parasitic infections (and inflammation of the digestive system),

  • Asthma, tuberculosis,
  • Allergies, hypersensitivity,
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases,
  • Blood diseases, such as leukemia, thrombocytopenia,
  • Cancer – for example, lymphoma,
  • Hypothyroidism,

Basophils – low

A decrease in the concentration of basophils is called basopenia. A basophil level below normal can most typically indicates:

  • Blood diseases, such as aplastic anemia,
  • Bone marrow dysfunction (leading to an overall low white blood cell count),
  • Pneumonia,
  • It may also result from certain medications, including chemotherapy or corticosteroids.

However, it should be remembered that many factors influence the number of basophils. We should always take into account our general health, well-being, and the results of other blood parameters in order to be able to assess whether a given basophil count is a standard situation or indicates a disease state. If the concentration of basophils in the blood changes above or below normal once and for a short time, this is most likely not a cause for serious concern. If abnormal results persist for a long time (for example, several weeks, months), and we additionally experience various types of ailments and our health worsens, we should take more interest in our health.