Howdo white blood cells protect the body from disease?Functionof white blood cellsMatthewMullett         Biology111Mrs.StandringDecember.18, 2017            The body uses the immune system todefend its self from infections and viruses. The immune system has a series ofmethods used to protect your body. The most important one are your white bloodcells or also known as leukocytes. These cells defend the body againstinfection and disease by ingesting foreign materials and debris, by destroying infectiousagents and cancer cells, or by producing antibodies (Britannica 1).

White bloodcells are found in lots of places throughout the body. Most are found outsideof circulation within tissue where they fight infections; the few found in theblood stream are in transit from one site to another (Britannica  3). The white blood cells are grouped intothree major classes: Lymphocytes, Granulocytes, and Monocytes – each with adifferent function (Britannica 3).

As every thing else in the world, the white bloodcells can develop conditions that can have a fatal effect on a person.             Lymphocytes are really what is associatedwith white blood cells. The fact that they encounter a foreign invader orinfection and destroy it. Lymphocytes are responsible for the specificrecognition of foreign agents and their subsequent removal from the host(Britannica 4). This type of cell is then subdivided into T cells and B cells.

The B cells or B lymphocytes are what produce antibodies (Yamini 2). B cellsare like the body’s military intelligence that seek out targets and senddefense to destroy them (Yamini 2). Then there are the T cells that destroyantigens that have been tagged by antibodies or cells that have been infectedor somehow changed (Yamini 3). T cells are like the soldiers, they destroyingthe invaders that the intelligence system (B cells) has identified (Yamini 2).Another name for T cells are actually “Killer cells”. About 25 to 35 percent ofwhite blood cells are lymphocytes in a healthy person (Britannica 4).

            Granulocytes are the most numerousof the white blood cells that rid the body of large pathogenic organisms suchas protozoans or helminthes and are also key mediators of allergy and otherforms of inflammation (Britannica 4). Granulocytes are subdivided into threecategories: Neutrophils, Eosinophils, and Basophils (Britannica 5). Neutrophilsare the first cell types to arrive at an infection where they engulf anddestroy the infectious micro organisms through a process called phagocytosis(Britannica 5). Phagocytosis is when cells chew up the invading organisms (Yamini2). Although after a neutrophil engulfs any foreign particles theyself-destruct (Dority 1).

About 50 to 80 percent of all white blood cells areneutrophils (Britannica  5). Basophilshave granules that contain a number of chemicals, including histamine that isimportant in inducing allergic inflammatory responses (Britannica 5) andheparin (Dority 2). Well what do these two chemicals do exactly? Heparin is ananti-coagulant, meaning it prevents blood cells from clotting too quickly.Histamine is a vasodilator that is commonly released during allergic reactionsto increase blood flow (Dority 2). Eosinophils are what destroy parasites andalso help modulate inflammatory responses (Britannica 5). How eosinophils fightparasites are by releasing chemical mediators, peroxides, nucleases andlipases, by a process called degranulation with target pathogens (Dority 2).

            The third and final class aremonocytes. Monocytes originate in the bone marrow and develop into largemacrophages in the bloodstream (Dority 1). These cells are scavengers and aretherefore effective at direct destruction of pathogens and clean up cellulardebris from sites of infection (Britannica 6). In other words, monocytes arewhat clean up the mess left behind from the destruction of a foreign invader. Between4 and 8 percent of white blood cells are monocytes in your blood (Britannica 6).

            White blood cells are also apart ofanother system known as the lymphatic system. This system is made up of lymphnodes that work like filters to remove any germs that could make you sick, inthis case it’s a clear fluid called lymph that contains leukocytes (white bloodcells) inside of it (article 2 pg.1).

            All of these different classes andsubdivisions of white blood cells aren’t because there are so many. Its becausespecific types of cells are associated with different illnesses which reflectthe special function of that cell type in body defense (Britannica 6). This isseen in newborns who have a high white blood cell count that gradually to theadult level during childhood. This is a natural response as newborns are moresusceptible to getting an infection (Britannica 6).             How do white blood cells know thenwhen it s time for them to destroy a foreign invader? It was found that whiteblood cells make a protein called HIF-1 that boost the production ofantibacterial compounds when oxygen levels begin to drop, or when the cellencounters a harmful bacterium (Coombs pg.1). “turning on the HIF-1 is like awhite blood cell pulling out it’s sword as it enters infected tissue” (Coombspg. 1).

Therefore, if they were always making killer compounds it might destroythe good cells and waste good energy (Coombs Pg.1).            Some people have problems with theirimmune system meaning it may respond to non-dangerous materials in apotentially pathogenic way. Allergies, an example of this is when the immunesystem overreacts and treats something harmless like peanuts as though is wasreally dangerous to the body (article 2 pg.

2). Well what is it that causesthis? Its certain medical conditions such as lupus that cause the immune systemto fight the good cells and this can cause problems (Britannica Pg.2).             The immune system is a well regimented armyworking together to combat the dangerous foreign invaders. Its battalionsconsist of front line white cells in the form of neutrophils, Special operationswhite cells in the form of basophils and finally eosinophils. Together thesetypes of cells are what make up granulocytes cells that rid body of disease.

Whilethe lymphocytes are what find diseases or infections and tell the granulocytesto destroy them.                Coombs, Amy.”Killer Cells Get a Boost.” Science Now, 7/1/2005,p. 1. EBSCOhost,       http://web.a., Jason. “White BloodCells & Their Functions.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 14       Aug.2017, www.”Immune System.” Edited byYamini Durani, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, May 2015,  

html.The Editors of EncyclopædiaBritannica. “White blood cell.” Encyclopædia Britannica     Encyclopædia            Britannica, inc., 16 Feb. 2017, www.    cell. “Your Immune System.” Editedby Yamini Durani, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, May  2015,


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