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What are Neutrophils?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cell, comprising about 50-70% of all white blood cells. They are phagocytic, meaning that they can ingest other cells, though they do not survive the act. Neutrophils are the first immune cells to arrive at a site of infection, through a process known as chemotaxis.

Though neutrophils are short lived, with a half-life of four to ten hours when not activated and immediate death upon ingesting a pathogen, they are plentiful and responsible for the bulk of an immune response. They are the main component of pus and responsible for its whitish color. Neutrophils are present in the bloodstream until signaled to a site of infection by chemical cues in the body. They are fast acting, arriving at the site of infection within an hour.

A neutrophil, the most common type of white blood cell.
A neutrophil, the most common type of white blood cell.

Before ingesting invasive bacteria, neutrophils can release a net of fibers called a neutrophil extracellular trap (NET), which serves to trap and kill microbes outside of the cell. When neutrophils ingest microbes, they release a number of proteins in primary, secondary, and tertiary granules that help kill the bacteria. They also release superoxide, which becomes converted into hypochlorous acid, which is theorized to play a part in killing microbes as well.

A diagram showing different types of white blood cells, including neutrophils.
A diagram showing different types of white blood cells, including neutrophils.

A deficiency of neutrophils is called neutropenia and may be congenital or acquired, for example in certain kinds of anemia and leukemia, or as a side effect of chemotherapy. Since neutrophils are such an important part of the immune response, a lowered neutrophil count results in a compromised immune system.

Neutrophils may also malfunction, causing more harm to the body than they prevent. In alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, for example, inflammation, part of a normal immune response, leads to tissue damage. In Familial Mediterranean fever, the immune response is also so acute and prolonged that it can lead to a number of dangerous complications.

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a TheHealthBoard editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

Learn more...
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a TheHealthBoard editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

Learn more...

Discussion Comments


anon215206, post 91:

When a CBC (FBC) is done the test results will add up to 100 percent total. Your test results, based on what you wrote, add up to 100 percent.


@anon334980, Post 105: I don't quite understand your question, but if your baby has a 104 degree temperature you should head to Urgent Care or call your doctor. Most likely there is an infection of some type occurring.


My father has a burning sensation near the chest. He found out that the neutrophils should be between 50 and 75 percent. He has 78 percent.


I really don't understand how you know your lab values if you weren't prescribed to have them drawn and your results read by a medical professional. And you then post a "diagnose me" on what is essentially a definition of a cell page.

Either you are too afraid to actually ask the doctor to explain it, or you have a bad doctor who won't explain. If it is the doctor, get a new one. If it is you being afraid, just remember, when you die, that doctor moves on to another patient. Get some nerve and ask questions. The nurse can spend time answering if the doctor is unable. It's bad that you expect a medical diagnosis from an anonymous person.


Does this Neutrophils process cause weight gain? I'm wondering how a bee sting(s) could cause me to gain 9.2 pounds in a matter of hours after getting stung. I realize and understand the inflammation that goes on, but don't quite understand how the the inflammation can cause such a weight gain.

I am on a weight loss program specializing in our body's reaction to the foods we eat, so monitoring my weight (to the tenth of a pound) is vital data. So imagine my surprise the morning after getting stung to find a 9.2 pound gain when I was expecting another loss. The only variable was the bee sting(s). I don't know if it was more than one. And it didn't stop there.

Another 2.2 pound gain the next day and it finally ended with a total 13.8 pounds gained over the seven days following the sting. That week quickly wiped out seven weeks worth of careful food reaction monitoring and weight loss. The same thing happened after I had surgery in April. I gained 12.2 pounds the week following surgery, again wiping out eight weeks work of weight loss. Now with surgery, I realize they pump you with fluids, which could account for some of the weight gain, but a bee sting? I had no other additional input into my body to attribute to that kind of gain. Just trying to understand a bit more how my body works. Thanks for any insight.


I am 43 years old and my neutrophills count is 32 percent and eosino is 41 percent, Is it a good condition or bad or affect my body please suggest me.


My baby is a year old. He has 15,700 t.l.c and 76 neutrophil and a 104 degree fever. please tell me the treatment.


My son is nine years old and has not recently had any viruses. He had bloodwork and his neutrophil count is 16 percent, with lymphocytes at 40 percent and and Eosinophil 41. What does it mean?


I am 51 years old and have recently suffered from a high viral fever. I gave blood for a test and my neutrophil count is 36 percent and lymphocytes are 56 percent. What does it mean?


I agree with asking a doctor but I can guarantee that I care about my health and my family's health much more than any doctor I have ever met. Thanks wise geek for getting me up to speed on complex terms so that I am not too intimidated to ask questions because of unfamiliar jargon.

I feel the admonishment comment goes further to scare readers into trusting doctors having large case loads and normal problems than it does to encourage doing research. Let's remember the medical community used to endorse lobotomies.


Thank you wiseGEEK for an informative article!

To everyone asking about their neutrophil levels or what they should do, I have this advice:

1. If you have questions, ask your doctor. If your doctor won't answer your questions, keep searching until you find one who will.

2. The author of this site is not a doctor; she has a BA in the social sciences. However, that doesn't mean that the information isn't correct (it is). She's very good at research and has written a simple definition, for the layperson, on a complex topic. But no matter how well-researched and written this article is, it's not a substitute for advice from a certified medical specialist.

3. Aside from the author, everyone else is posting anonymously. Even if someone answered your question, why would you ever trust an answer from an anonymous source?

4. If you really want to trawl the internet, in lieu of asking a live medical professional, then at least consult a medical website, not a generalized research site like wiseGEEK. The internet is rife with misinformation and inaccuracy. If you're not a doctor, you shouldn't be diagnosing yourself in the first place, especially based on your interpretation of something you found online, which may or may not be true. Do some due diligence, to the best of your ability, to make sure that the site is a reputable, credible, and trustworthy source for information. Otherwise, you may be doing yourself more harm than good.

5. And then, after all that, ask a doctor!

No disrespect to wiseGEEK; you rock! If you can't find out who is responsible for the content on a site, you can't trust it. It's as simple as that.


My son has 1.8 L of Neutrophils and he is 16 years old and the doctor said is very low for his age. What can I do?


My eight year old son has .8 neutrophils, no immunity and 2.8 wbc. Now what?


1302 neutrophils is very good. It has a good count of blood. You have a good blood, Anon4447.


My daughter's netrophils are 73 percent and she is eight years old. Is this OK? If not, please suggest the way to maintain the balance.


I am 77 years old and my neutrophil count is 68.90 percent. Is it OK, or must I take medicine?


I am a 21 year old unmarried girl. I have 87 neutrophils. What does this indicate.


I'm 36 and my neutrophils are 90. Normal is 45-75. Suggest to me any precautions.


my neutrophils are 59 percent; lymphocytes 35 percent; eosinophils 04 percent; monocytes 02 perent; basophils 00 percent. What does this mean?


my neutrophils are low and so is my rbc, haematocrit and white cell count level. I am 64 years old and had undergone a bypass and spinal implementation. What remedy is there to take to boost bp and these levels?


Anon182745, post 80, CMA for 5 years and you still don't understand the principles of HIPAA nor even how to spell it. No wonder people are here instead of there.


My neutrophil level is 75. Please give me solutions And I often get some fever.


My neutrophils level is 78.5 percent. Kindly tell me what are the causes, signs, symptoms and management for the same.


My neutrophils level is 81 percent. Kindly tell me what are the causes, signs, symptoms and management for the same?


my son has ALL blood cancer (leukemia). He is 5 years and 2 months old. His neutrophils are 10 percent, Lymphocytes 70 percent, Eosinophils 14 percent and Monocytes are 02 percent. What does it mean.


My father's neutrophils are 82 percent and he is 60 years old. What should it be at this age or is it OK?


my Neutrophils are 82.2 percent. i am 59 years old. what does this indicate?


Reading posts like these makes me wonder why we went through all the legal troubles of creating things like HIPPA whereupon all medical records are not to be shared with anyone without the patient's consent or written approval barring court order.

Why on earth are people sharing their medical data online? That's a good question. If you have gotten through your usual 15 or 30 minute visit with your doc and you haven't asked that question, I suggest you pull one of his office aids or nurse aside and get an explanation of your results in plain english. They are good at breaking the medical jargon down to understandable terms and often more approachable.

I was a CMA for five doctors in a medical office and quite capable of answering all these questions and so are they. Trust me: keep your information to yourself and seek the nurse out when you need a question answered. This is not the format for it.


normal ranges for neutrophils are (40-72).


my daughter is six years. her neutrophils level is 58 percent. is it a dangerous level?


my neutrophils level is 63.9 is that bad. can you please explain this situation to me. --maurice


can you tell me about the biochemistry of neutrophils? i need it because I'm a student of medical studies.


I am 17 years old female. my neutrophil level is 78 percent. will it cause any harm?


my neutrophil is 0.08. what is normal?


I'm just wondering if I'm correct or not. If you say high in bands, does that mean also high in neutrophils? Because there are two types of neutrophils, right? segmented and immature neutrophils? Just asking. oh, and do both have the same action? Do they detect and fight infection? they are the ones which first attack the bacteria, right?


I am a 35 year old female. I have been getting a rash of large raised red hives on my skin since I was 18. It happens randomly at different times of the year.

It used to only last a day but as I get older the condition is getting worse and it lasts up to a week. At the last break-out I had a biopsy. I was told it is a neutrophilic vascular reaction. The hives always start at my elbows and then over the course of the week it appears over my entire body.

Do you know what is causing this and what I can do to treat and/or prevent it?


i am 23 years old and my neutrophils are 93 percent. What should i do?


I'm a 33 year old female, and was recently brought to the ER due to high fever and severe dry cough. I had my blood test taken and everything is within reference except for my Neutrophils which is 0.85 from the reference of 0.55 to 0.65.

The doctor's advice was i had a bacterial infection.

I was advised to take UNASYN 750MG (antibiotic) and Fluimucil 200mg for the dry cough and Biogesic for the fever. i was ordered to take it for one week.


I am 29 years old and neutrophils are 72. What does it mean?


#41: It kind of sounds like you might have iron deficiency. when your red blood cells, hemoglobin and hematocrit are all low, normally this is the deficiency. try eating some foods with iron in it and you might feel better. red blood cells are pretty much four chains of iron bound to a blood cell so when you are low, the chain is low too! hope this helps!


I am a 42 year old male and have just been told my Neutrophils are at 88 percent. what does this mean?


i am 37 years old my Neutrophil is are 76 Mean corpuscular vol is 97 fl. and mean corpuscular Hb C is 32 pg. What does it mean. is it normal?


Why don't you people ask your doctor these questions? Most of you are in the normal range.


My neutrophils count is 65 percent and my lymphocyte count is 35 percent. What does this mean? Please help me to know this because I am worried.


Why are you asking medical advice from a website? I realize people are all high on independence and their collective hatred of doctor's appointments but really people, see a doctor.

You shouldn't be asking the internet medical advice. Because sure, you may get advice back but is it really reliable?

Even though this site is quite a good source of knowledge, see a doctor people!


I am a 21year old female who has received blood test results showing that my neutrophils absolute count is low, giving 1.6 instead of 2.0-8.0 along with my corpuscular hemoglobin and volume being higher than average. is there a possibility that i may have cancer? I await your reply.


My eosinophil is zero. it was for my last few blood tests and it says that's low! can anyone explain to me why and how it's like this? my neutrophil was 2679. i don't know much about that. my lymphocytes were 1739. can anyone help me. thanks so much.


i am 42 years old my neutrophils are 76. What does it mean. is it normal?


my daughter is a year old she has 6 percent neutrophil count. It started when she was 10 months old and bone marrow is normal and other tests are very normal, but sometimes she has had colds.

Please reply to my problem and how to increase neutrophil count and treatment for this problem. thank you.


My neutrophils are 75 percent. What does this mean?

They say the 40-74 range is acceptable. thanks. bob o.


My son is anemic and has very high Eosinophils well over 3000 (33%), he also has low Neutrophils at 30%. We have an appointment with a Hematologist in 2 weeks. What are we looking at for a diagnosis?


my son had a fever. he's age 7. neutrophils count 70. what do i do? please let me know.


hello for my past two blood tests my eosinophils (abs value) have been zero. my platelet counts have been low on two of the three tests. my red and white cell counts are barely over the normal and the red was below normal. also at one point my hemoglobin and hematocrit were low.

i can't get an answer from my physician. can anyone else help me? my first thought is always leukemia and i have been tested for it 19 years ago but they said i didn't have it! the hematologist did say he wanted to see my platelet count higher or we had to talk. can anyone explain that to me? thanks


what is reactive neutrophil leucocytosis? my grandmother's test show that she has it. i want to know.


my neutrophil count is 62 percent which the normal is 40-50 percent; lymohocytes is 30 and eosinophils is 08. I am 57 years old and my result for my FBS is 180. I just received the result today. i am a little bit worried. please advise. -salvatierradory


If you've read the entries online, neutrophils are the good cells, they fight infection. My sister has AML, a kind of leukemia, and after chemo her neutrophils were down to zero. Before she can have her bone marrow transplant, she has to have at least a count of 500 neutrophils. If anyone has prolonged fever, bruises, extreme exhaustion, sores that don't seem to heal, constant infections, especially a fungal type, then get to a doctor ASAP. These can be signs of leukemia, and you need to at least get checked out.

This is nice, but no one here can or should diagnose you. Better to go to a doctor and find out what exactly is wrong, and get proper treatment. Health is far too serious an issue to let go. I am praying for my sister every minute because this is a very bad thing.


My daughter is just one year old. She has TLC 20,600/,Neutrophil 84 percent and Lymphocyte 14 percent. We are worried. Please let me know what does this mean?


my neutrophil count is .82 i am 14 years old. i have a fever. now what i need to do?


I am 30 weeks pregnant and a blood test reads high for neutrophils - 9.4. Should I be concerned in any way? I feel generally okay given that I am on my fourth pregnancy and aged 44.


Blood test results: Neut% 37.9 and Lymp% 46.6 - I am a 52 year old relatively healthy femaile. What do these abnormal results mean?


My eosinophils count is 9 percent. It's more than normal count. even my neutrophils count is 75 (above normal). I am 32 years male. My skin is developing rashes. Kindly advise me about medicines.


my neutrophil count is 75 percent. What does this mean and what is anormal count? I am 25 years old.


My neutrophil count is 72 percent. I am 31 years old my white count is in the normal range. I am getting burning sensation in chest and count is 10700.


my three year old son had a blood test and his neutrophils were 648. what does this mean, and does he need any medication? He is also anemic and his wbc is 3.5. is there any relation?


my baby is 11 months old and she just has 0-1 percent neutrophils. It started we know from when the baby was four months old. How can we increase the percentage and any advice for my problem? Thanks. From Mr. Goh


When it says "post questions/comments" that doesn't mean "diagnose my symptoms". If you read a dictionary entry about hallucinations would you write the author and ask them if you have Schizophrenia?

Call your doctor or nurse for medical questions!

And if your doctor says your tests are all normal and you don't feel well, consider that it might just be stress. They know how to interpret your blood test results. Stop looking for reasons to be sick.


My neutrophils count is 65.6 percent and my lymphocyte count is 27.1 percent. What does this mean?


My white blood cell count 3.08 my creatinine is 88. is this anything to worry about? i am 58.


My daughter's (2 years old) neutrophil count is 83 and her white blood count is 20.20. what does this all mean? will she have to take any medication?


I am a 34-year-old female. my white cell count is 10800/cumm and neutrophils count is 70 percent and Creatinine 0.7mg/dl. What does it mean??


my baby is 13 months old she is having 67 percent of neutrophill count. why?


My dad recently died of Neutrophilic Leukemoid reaction following a heart by-pass operation. His bloods taken on admission were as follows:

HB.11; WCC.12.8; platelets.169; neutrophils.11.3.

Were these blood counts in the normal range to perform such an operation? Please advise me.


My baby is 45 days old. We did her CBC and results showed total White blood count(tlc) 16,100 and her neutrophills shows 81H. is it too high? Does she need to be admitted to the hospital?


my son's neutrophil percent is 32. he is 12 years of age. what does it mean?


my brother's neutrophil percent is 78. he is of 17 years of age. serum analysis is 991. what does it mean?


my c reactive protein is 29.01, neutrophils 9.9, WBC 13.6 and total cholesterol 203 triglycerides 412 and hdl 28. I have tingling in my thighs and muscle wasting in all of my limbs. any help? the dr.s can't tell me what's wrong. i am a smoker also.


I have a neutrophils result of 1.7 and a white blood count of 3.3 does this mean I have some type of infection in my body?


My advice is to see a homeopathic doctor or a N.D. That is what I have had to do. I found out I am low in B12 and have a vitamin D deficiency.


hi im 27 years old..monthly three time i feel tired, fever, too hemoglobin range is 16.0, rbc5.7, hct49.6, mcv86, mch,28.9, mchc33.7, rdw13.3 and wbc count total count5.3, neutrophilils 72,lymphocytes23,eosinophils1,monocytes4,basophilis 0, platletcount199, mpv7.2fl...i sent all of my blood reports....please send me some diet advice.


My daughter is a 16 year old and her neutrophil is 90%. She feels tired and sleepy most of the time and she suffered fever for 4 days. Whenever she eats anything she feels like vomiting. Please tell me what to do.


I have been very fatigued lately, Just not feeling like myself. I went to the doctor and had blood taken. When I got my results they said I was fine. But I see that my Neutrophils is 41, my lymphs are 49 and my absolute Neutrophils are 1.81. Please help, I am not feeling well there has to be a reason.


My neutrophil count jumped from 2.58 to 5.14, what does this indicate? Improved health or that there is an infection somewhere in the body?


Why am I seeing the normal range of neutrophil levels written as both 1.5 to 6.5 and 1500 to 6500?

And why would the long term use of corticosteriods cause a rise in a person's neutrophil levels? If cortisone inhibits the neutrophil apoptosis process – how does this happen?


My wife, age 72, is being treated for myelodysplasia discovered 4 years ago. She has been having monthly transfusions for the past 2 years including platelets. She has been told her neutrophil level is very low. Can neutrophils be transfused or raised by any means? She was also having weekly EPO injections but her doctor has discontinued them any comments on the usefulness of EPO? Any information will be most useful.


I recently got my test result back from my pregnancy blood test and it says that Neutrophils is 66.4 H. And also, the WBC is 3.5 L, RBC is 3.76 L, Lymphocytes is 23.7 L. Im guessing that there is something wrong with my immune system? Please help. Thanks. Any info helps.


My son's neutrophils' count is 85% and c. reactive protein 70.5 is it dangerous pls tel me what can i do?


anon4447 and anon7003 you are confusing me because neutrophil counts are measured in percentages.

anon4447 chances are you meant 13.02%

anon7003 chances are you meant 83.08%

anon4447 with a low neutrophil count you could have

Neutropenia, some of the symptoms are

Fever, Mouth ulcers, Diarrhea, Burning sensation when urinating, Unusual redness, pain, or swelling around a wound, Sore throat, Shortness of breath, Shaking, chill. it can also be caused by viral infections.

anon7003 your neutrophil count is high but normal.


My daughter's neutrophils' count is .73 and her red blood cells is high at 5.23. what does this mean?


what does this all mean? I am a 43 year old female and my white blood count was high 12.4 and neutrophils were 8308???


Ny neutrophil count is 1302 - I am a seventeen year old female - my white count is in normal range. Should I take any supplements?

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    • A neutrophil, the most common type of white blood cell.
      By: tandel
      A neutrophil, the most common type of white blood cell.
    • A diagram showing different types of white blood cells, including neutrophils.
      By: apple1
      A diagram showing different types of white blood cells, including neutrophils.
    • A lowered neutrophil count results in a compromised immune system, and an increased risk of infection.
      A lowered neutrophil count results in a compromised immune system, and an increased risk of infection.
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      By: joshya
      A deficiency of neutrophils may be caused by leukemia.
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