Lymphocyte %

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A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell in the vertebrate immune system.
Under the microscope, lymphocytes can be divided into large granular lymphocytes and small lymphocytes. Large granular lymphocytes include natural killer cells (NK cells). Small lymphocytes consist of T cells and B cells.
A lymphocyte count is usually part of a peripheral complete blood cell count and is expressed as percentage of lymphocytes to total white blood cells counted.

Any infection or acute stress increases your number of white blood cells. High white blood cell counts may be due to inflammation, an immune response, or blood disorders such as leukemia.
It is important to realize that an abnormal increase in one type of white blood cell can cause a decrease in the percentage of other types of white blood cells.

A general increase in the number of lymphocytes is known as lymphocytosis whereas a decrease is lymphocytopenia.
An increased percentage of lymphocytes may be due to:
·Chronic bacterial infection  
·Infectious hepatitis  
·Infectious mononucleosis  
·Lymphocytic leukemia  
·Multiple myeloma  
·Viral infection (such as infectious mononucleosis, mumps, measles)  
·Recovery from a bacterial infection  
An increase in lymphocyte concentration is usually a sign of a viral infection (in some rare case, leukemias are found through an abnormally raised lymphocyte count in an otherwise normal person).

A decreased percentage of lymphocytes may be due to:
·HIV infection  
·Radiation therapy or exposure  
A low normal to low absolute lymphocyte concentration is associated with increased rates of infection after surgery or trauma.
One basis for low T cell lymphocytes occurs when the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects and destroys T cells (specifically, the CD4 subgroup of T lymphocytes). Without the key defense that these T cells provide, the body becomes susceptible to opportunistic infections that otherwise would not affect healthy people. The extent of HIV progression is typically determined by measuring the percentage of CD4+ T cells in the patient's blood. The effects of other viruses or lymphocyte diseases can also often be estimated by counting the numbers of lymphocytes present in the blood.

Difference between percentage of lymphocytes and absolute lymphocyte count (ALC)
Absolute counts are extremely important. If lymphocyte or other counts are reported as percentages of the total white blood count (wbc), the absolute values can be calculated as follows: Total wbc x % cell type reported / 100. This formula can be used for calculating the absolute lymphocyte count, absolute neutrophil count, etc.
By way of example, if the total white count reported is 25,000 and the percentage of lymphocytes reported is 80%, the calculation is as follows: 25,000 x 80 / 100. The result is an absolute lymphocyte count of 20,000.
If the total white blood count minus the total lymphocytes is less than 2000, the patient becomes increasingly at risk of infection. This is one of the reasons it is essential to monitor absolute counts, not percentages.

All information on this page is intended for your general knowledge only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.