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Basophils are part of your immune system that normally protects your body from infection, but can also be partly responsible for your asthma symptoms. Basophils are a type of white blood cell that are involved in inflammatory reactions in your body, especially those related to allergies and asthma. When stimulated, basophils release histamine and other enzymes that can lead to inflammation, bronchoconstriction, and asthma symptoms.
When you are exposed to allergens such as molds or animal dander, an IgE antibody binds to the allergen and stimulates the basophils to release histamine. Classic asthma symptoms follow the release of histamine.
A granulocyte (a type of white blood cell) that can secrete a biologically active substance such as histamine, proteoglycans, or cyclooxigenase products. Basophils are produced continually by stem cells in the bone marrow. They are 1215 microns in diameter. The mature nucleus of a basophile has 2 or 3 lobes.
The function of basophils is not fully understood, but it is known that they are capable of ingesting foreign particles and produce heparin and histamine (chemicals which induce inflammation), and are often associated with asthma and allergies. Related cells, known as mast cells, are often associated with helping provide mediators to initiate immune reponses.
Basophils appear in many specific kinds of inflammatory reactions, particularly those that cause allergic symptoms. Basophils contain anticoagulant heparin, which prevents blood from clotting too quickly. They also contain the vasodilator histamine, which promotes blood flow to tissues. They can be found in unusually high numbers at sites of ectoparasite infection, e.g., ticks. Like eosinophils, basophils play a role in both parasitic infections and allergies. They are found in tissues where allergic reactions are occurring and probably contribute to the severity of these reactions. Basophils have protein receptors on their cell surface that bind IgE, an immunoglobulin involved in macroparasite defense and allergy. It is the bound IgE antibody that confers a selective response of these cells to environmental substances, for example, pollen proteins or helminth antigens. Recent studies in mice suggest that basophils may also regulate the behavior of T cells and mediate the magnitude of the secondary immune response.
The level of basophils can be too high in response to an infection from a virus. Removal of the spleen can also cause basophils to be too high. The spleen is an organ that helps fight infection and removes and destroys worn-out red blood cells. Increased estrogen can cause basophils to be too high as well. Estrogen is a type of hormone that promotes the growth of some physical female sexual characteristics. Hormones are types of chemicals in the body that affect other cells.
Basophils can be high when inflammation in the body is healing. Basophils can also be high in disorders that cause an increase in myeloid tissue. Myeloid tissue is a type of bone marrow (a tissue found inside bones) that has many fibers. One such condition in which there is an increase in myeloid tissue is polycythemia vera. Polycythemia vera is a condition of unknown cause in which there is a long-term increase in red blood cells and other types of cells. Another such condition is myelofibrosis, in which the normal bone marrow is replaced by fibrous tissue (the connective tissue of the body). Chronic myelocytic leukemia (cancer of blood-forming tissues) can also cause a rise in basophils. Cancer is a group of disorders in which symptoms are due to an abnormal and excessive growth of cells in one of the body organs or tissues.
Basophils can also be increased due to some conditions that cause inflammation. Examples are asthma (difficulty breathing due to narrowing of the airway passage), chronic dermatitis (a long-term inflammation of the skin), and chronic inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are openings in the bone that often contain fluid. Another inflammatory condition that can cause an increase in basophils is Crohn's disorder. Crohn's disorder is a condition that causes inflammation of the intestine. The intestine is a tube shaped structure that is part of the digestive tract. It stretches from an opening in the stomach to the anus (rear end) and occupies most of the lower parts of the belly.
Hypothyroidism can cause basophils to be too high. Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in front of the neck that produces a natural chemical known as hormones that affect virtually every cell in the body and many functions such as disorder fighting, heart rate, energy level, and skin condition.
Hemolytic anemia can cause an increase in basophils. Hemolytic anemia is a disease that causes the red blood cells to be destroyed to early. Red blood cells help carry oxygen in the blood. Another cause of increased basophils is Hodgkins lymphoma, which is a painless (yet very serious), worsening condition in which lymphoid tissue is enlarged. Lymphoid tissue is a type of tissue that contains lympocytes. Lympocytes are types of white blood cells that help the body fight against disorder.
Basophils can be too low in people who have severe allergies. It can also be low in pregnant women and people under stress. Hyperthyroidism can also cause basophils to be too low. Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive. Basophils can be low in people who are taking corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are a group of drugs that act similarly to a natural chemical in the body known as corticosteroid hormone. Corticosteroid hormones control the body's use of nutrients and the amount of water and salts in the urine.
Difference between percentage of basophils and absolute basophil count (ABC)
Absolute counts are extremely important. If basophil 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 basophil count, absolute neutrophil count, etc.
All information on this page is intended for your general knowledge only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.