The 5 classes of white blood cells

White blood cells are divided into 5 classes.

  1. Neutrophils (70%): These are the big guys in infection. Generally when someone has an “elevated white count” it’s due to the neutrophils (unless there’s a lymphoma grumbling along). They are the major players in fighting off bacterial infection and the main component in pus.
  2. Lymphocytes (20-60%): These are the B cells, T cells, and Natural Killer (NK) cells. When you’re looking at a blood smear, you can’t tell the difference between them.
    • T cells: cell-mediated immunity
    • B cells: humoral (antibody-mediated) immunity
    • Natural Killer cells: protect against viruses and tumours
  3. Monocytes (3-8%): Mature into macrophages and mast cells, they play a major role in mounting an inflammatory reaction. Macrophages are the “professional antigen presenting cells“, displaying foreign peptides in Class II MHC.
  4. Eosinophils (1-6%): fight against parasitic infections (back in the good old days), now they’re the bane of many people’s existence as they’re involved in asthma and allergies.
  5. Basophils (0.1%): contain many base-loving (hence baso-phil) granules containing histamine

2 thoughts on “The 5 classes of white blood cells

  1. Hi there- I tried to send a private email to the message listed on your spiltmartini site, but it got bounced back, so I thought I’d just try leaving a comment.

    I’d like to get all the images you have on sketchy medicine so far, without the water marks, and without having to buy each one separately. I see the cards for sale, but they aren’t quite what I’m looking for. I have some of your drawings printed and have used them to study with good success, but I would love to just have all of them. Can you tell me what you might charge for that? I hope you consider publishing a book of all your images when you’re finished. Your work is incredible, and invaluable in medical training.


    • Thanks for the interest! I’ve been told by quite a few people that they would appreciate a book. It’s definitely something I’ve thought about, but unfortunately at this time I don’t have the time to look into publishing deals. I would have to think about how much it would cost to get non-watermarked copies of the doodles and it would depend on the resolution of the images as well (web quality vs print quality).

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