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Basophils: What can high or low levels indicate

December 2019

Basophils are important cells for the immune system and are usually enlarged in cases of allergy or prolonged inflammation such as asthma, rhinitis or urticaria for example. Basophils have in their structure numerous granules, which, in situations of inflammation or allergy, for example, release heparin and histamine to fight the problem.

These cells that form in the bone marrow are a type of white blood cell, also known as a leukocyte, that can be evaluated by the blood test recommended by your doctor, the white blood cell, which is one of the constituents of the blood count. See how to interpret the leukogram.

Basophils are present in the blood in very small concentrations, and normal basophilic reference values range from 0 - 2% or 0 - 200 / mm3 in both men and women.

Tipos de Leucócitos
Tipos de Leucócitos

Reference range for Basophils

Normal blood basophil values are indicated according to the total amount of leukocytes in the blood, representing about 0 to 2% of total leukocytes.

The following table shows the lymphocyte reference values in adult men and women, including basophils:

ParametersReference range
Leukocytes4500 - 11000/mm³
Neutrophils40 a 80%
Eosinophils0 a 5%
Basophils0 a 2%
Lymphocytes20 a 50%
Monocytes0 a 12%

The reference range for basophils do not vary between adult men and women, but may vary depending on the laboratory where the blood test is performed and therefore the result of the test should always be seen by the doctor.

Why can basophils levels increase

The increase in blood basophils, known as basophilia, occurs in cases of:

  • Ulcerative colitis, which is inflammation of the bowel;
  • Asthma;
  • Sinusitis and rhinitis, which corresponds to inflammation of the sinus, found in the airways, usually associated with infections;
  • Arthritis, which is the inflammation of the body's joints and causes pain;
  • Chronic renal failure, especially in cases of kidney failure, such as nephrosis;
  • Haemolytic anemia, in which red blood cells are destroyed, compromising the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the body;
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia;
  • After having chemotherapy or removing the spleen.

If basophilia is noted, it is important to analyze the blood count and request further tests to find out the cause of the increase in basophils and therefore start treatment.

What may low levels of basophils indicate

​​​​Basopenia, which is when basophils are low, is an uncommon situation that can occur due to decreased production of white blood cells by the bone marrow, and only 20 cells per liter of blood can be identified.

The main causes of basopenia are ingestion of drugs that weaken your immune system, such as corticosteroids, ovulation, pregnancy, stress, hyperthyroidism and Cushing's syndrome.

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