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Basophils are a type of leukocyte or white blood cells. They are part of the blood and immune system, their main function is to attack antigens that cause allergy, and are present in most inflammatory reactions, especially those that cause allergies, basophils release a substance called histamine, this is an anticoagulant substance that prevents blood from clotting too fast, as well as being a vasodilator that promotes blood flow to tissues.

In healthy adults, basophils account for approximately 0.01% to 0.3% of the total white blood cell count. Normal levels of this type of white blood cells are between 40 and 200 basophils per microliter of blood in a male or female adult, and between 0 and 640 basophils per microliter of blood in a newborn.

Basophils are part of the group of granulocytes, these are so named because they have a granule inside their cell membranes that distinguish them from the rest of the leukocytes. The granules are vital for the functioning of the immune system, as they have compounds that the immune system uses to respond to an infection or inflammation. Another function of basophils is to store the information against antigens that later use the T cells to create specific antibodies.

High levels of basophils:

When the basophil counts reflected in a blood test are higher than normal, the patient is considered to have a medical condition called basophilia. Basophilia usually presents without symptoms, however when the severity of the condition is considerable the patient may present enlargement of the spleen, fatigue, bone pain, loss of weight and appetite, but the most prevalent symptom in most cases is difficulty breathing. In most cases basophilia is presented as a secondary factor of a major disease, so the treatment for this medical condition are determined by the underlying disease. Ulcers, anemia, some cancers, thyroid diseases, blood disorders, respiratory diseases are a few examples of maladies in which basophilia appears, but perhaps the most common reason for basophil levels to appear elevated is by the presence of a type of cancer known as chronic myeloid leukemia.

Low levels of basophils:

When an individual has basophil levels lower than normal levels in a blood test, they are said to suffer from a medical condition called basopenia, this is a type of leukopenia. Commonly, basopenia occurs as a secondary factor derived from a major disease. The most common causes for a person to present basopenia are: Severe allergies. Pregnancy. Stress. Altered thyroid gland, hypothyroidism. Treatments with corticosteroids, since these are a drug whose function is to act in a similar way to the substance that secretes the body called costicosteroid, whose function is to control the nutrients and amount of water and salts in the urine. Persistent infections. Immunosuppressive drugs.