Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell, which fight infections. Neutrophils circulate through the blood and are normally detected on routine complete blood count (CBC) tests as part of the white blood cell count. Many more neutrophils are on standby in the bone marrow and clinging to blood vessel walls, to be released into the blood if needed.
Neutrophils are the “first responders” when the body is invaded by bacteria, viruses, or other organisms. Guided by chemical signaling, they travel to the area of infection and attack.
Neutrophils contain tiny compartments called granules, in which they store toxic chemicals that act as their weapons against microorganisms. These substances are effective at killing bacteria and viruses, but also contribute to inflammation, with swelling, redness, and often pain.
A low neutrophil count can be caused by drugs (especially chemotherapy), immune disorders, and problems in the bone marrow. A very low neutrophil count increases the risk of serious infection.
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