Why are monocytes needed and how many of them should be normal

Why are monocytes needed and how many of them should be normal

Why are monocytes needed and how many of them should be normal

August 7, 2021

Educational program Health

Without these cells, a person would not have coped with even the weakest infection.
Photo by Ekaterina Komissarova

Ekaterina Komissarova

Lifehacker medical journalist

Why are monocytes needed and how many of them should be normal


What are monocytes

Monocytes – This is a type of white blood cells (leukocytes), with the help of which the human immune system resists various infections and other diseases.

Like all white blood cells, monocytes are produced in the bone marrow and from there travel to the bloodstream. But then something unusual happens to them, which determines the main function of these blood cells.

Why are monocytes needed?

After wandering for several hours in the blood, young monocytes penetrate into various organs and tissues of the body. For example, in the spleen, liver, lungs, bone marrow tissue. Here these white blood cells ripen into macrophages.

Macrophages are the main scavenger cells of the immune system. They prey on pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms, capture and devour foreign bodies (this process is called phagocytosis). And they also destroy dead or damaged cells, for example, by a virus or a cancerous tumor. Macrophages also produce cytokines, proteins that increase the inflammatory response that the body uses to fight viruses or bacteria.

However, the functions of macrophages are much broader and more diverse. They depend, among other things, on the body where operate these cells. For example:

  • In the lungs. Macrophages live in the alveoli and are engaged in the destruction of the smallest debris particles that have entered the organ with inhalation. In addition, these cells are involved in the formation of immunity to various respiratory viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
  • In the central nervous system. Macrophages destroy dead or old neurons and control immunity in the brain.
  • In the spleen. Eliminate old or defective erythrocytes (red blood cells).

From the point of view of science, macrophages and their precursors monocytes are the most important element of innate immunity. That is, the “pre-installed” protective system with which we are born.

However, they play a significant role in the creation of acquired immunity. For example, it is known that macrophages help T-lymphocytes to quickly recognize already familiar pathogens of various infections and, as a result, accelerate the immune response. answer for infection.

How exactly it all works, scientists still do not sorted out. But it is already clear that without monocytes we would not be able to resist even the weakest infection. Why, even dust that accidentally got into the lungs.

What is the rate of monocytes in the blood

The number of monocytes is determined by a general blood test.

In a healthy person, monocytes constitute 2-8% of the total number of leukocytes.

In terms of absolute numbers, we are talking about 200—600 monocytes per microliter of blood. Or about 0.2–0.6 × 10 9 per litre.

When the number of monocytes rises or falls, this indicates that something is happening with the human immune system.

Why are monocytes elevated?

A high level of monocytes is called monocytosis. This state may indicate on the:

  • the presence in the body of some kind of chronic infection;
  • chronic inflammatory diseases For exampleulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease;
  • autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. With such failures, macrophages begin to mistakenly hunt for healthy cells of their own body. Since there are many healthy cells, the number of monocytes grows;
  • various blood diseases;
  • some types of cancer.

Why are monocytes lowered

If the monocyte count is less than normal, doctors speak of a condition called monocytopenia. Its cause is some factor, due to which the number of leukocytes in general decreases sharply. This Maybe be:

  • blood poisoning;
  • diseases that suppress the human immune system. For example, AIDS;
  • various diseases of the bone marrow, due to which the production of white blood cells decreases;
  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These treatments can damage the bone marrow.

What to do if the level of monocytes is above or below normal

First of all, don’t be nervous. A decrease or increase in the level of monocytes in itself is not dangerous. Perhaps this is generally a random temporary phenomenon.

Only a professional doctor can figure it out – the one who gave you a referral for a general blood test. The doctor will evaluate other blood values ​​from the same test and correlate them with your well-being, complaints and symptoms. Perhaps he will offer to retake the analysis or undergo additional studies. And only after that a preliminary diagnosis will be announced. Or, on the contrary, he will tell you that everything is in order with you – this is also completely possible.

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