1. What are the individual functions of each type of white blood cell?
Neutrophils, the most abundant white blood cells, are 'phagocytes' - that is, they 'eat' foreign organisms and kill them with internal poisons. They are important for fighting bacterial and fungal infections.
Lymphocytes are more specifically acting killers of infection and regulate the immune response. B-lymphocytes produce antibodies. T-lymphocytes act as messenger cells, directing the immune response. T-cells and NK-cells can also act directly to kill specific infective organisms. Lymphocytes are the cells which 'remember' previous infections and guard against re-infection with the same organism. They are active against all types of infection including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. When they malfunction they also have a role in allergy and in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Monocytes are phagocytes, like neutrophils, active against bacteria, fungi, and tuberculosis.
Eosinophils increase during allergic attacks and some parasitic infestations.
Basophils control inflammation and damage to the body. They increase in some blood diseases and in some inflammatory bowel diseases.
This article was last reviewed on 27 October 2010. | This article was last modified on 19 October 2011.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
The modified date indicates that one or more changes were made to the article. Such changes may or may not result from a full review of the article, so the two dates may not always agree.