Monocytes – Function, Normal Range

Our surrounding is composed of germs that can harm our bodies. When the germs get into our bodies, they can cause infections. Our immune system perceives these germs as foreign invaders that should be warded off. Our bodies have to fight these bacteria to keep us safe from illnesses. This role is played by the body’s immune system. In our immune system, we have a component called the white blood cells, which protect us from illnesses.

There are many types of white blood cells, and monocytes are some of them. Monocyte is the biggest white blood cell in our system. The purpose of these cells is to fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the body. Monocytes can also influence the adaptive immunity process. They have a big nucleus for cytoplasm and other internal vesicles, which handle foreign materials.

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Monocytes have a simple oval nucleus, and grey and clear cytoplasm. The monocytes have to multiply to try to fight off harmful cells in the body. When the number of monocytes increases, it means they seek to fight the invaders or diseases like cancer, and other infections. The distinguishing feature of the monocytes is their large, notched kidney-shaped nucleus.


Functions of monocytes

These types of blood cells play three main roles in the immune system. They contain macrophage and dendric cell progeny to suit their functions. The three functions they perform in the body are cytokine production, phagocytosis, and antigen presentation. There are three types of monocytes in the human blood.

Monocytes are classified into; classical monocytes characterized by high expression levels of CD14 receptor surface cell. There is non classical type, which has low expression levels of CD14 and the third is intermediate monocytes, which have both low and high level CD14 expression.

Simply stated, these are blood cells that defend body and its processes against diseases.  Produced in the bone marrow, they help the body in fighting several diseases like blood disorders, infections and various types of cancers.  Monocytes tend to multiply themselves to attack bad cells.

monocytes pictures

Low monocytes – causes

A low monocytes count is called monocytopenia. This is harmful as it increases the risk of infections. Such immunity risks are however dependent on the severity and cause of the low count of monocytes. Monocytopenia can be diagnosed through a complete blood count test. Sometimes doctors may conduct a bone marrow biopsy to determine the cause of monocytopenia.

There are several reasons that can cause monocytopenia. People with less amount of vitamin B12, Aplastic anemia, AIDS/HIV, hairy cell leukemia, tuberculosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and those who use certain medications are likely to develop this condition.

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Symptoms of monocytopenia

Low number of monocytes in the immune system causes weakness in the body, which leads to increased and extreme weakness. Patients suffering from this condition are likely to experience chronic fatigue even after engaging in light activities.

People with this condition have levels of red blood cells lower than normal. Red blood cells transport oxygen to the whole body. A reduced number of red blood cells means that oxygen amount in blood is low, which eventually causes breathlessness.


Treatment of monocytopenia

Treatment of this condition depends on the patient, the underlying cause, the severity of monocytopenia, and the presence of related symptoms and secondary infections. White blood cells production can be added in number by giving white blood cells growth factor. Infections can be treated with anti-fungal medicines, antibiotics, and other drugs. Other treatment options are corticosteroid therapy and intravenous immune globulin.

 Patients suffering from monocytopenia also need to take a nutritious and balanced diet and follow guidelines during treatment to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the body. Some common precautions include washing hands, wearing masks and gloves, and avoiding crowds to prevent contact with pathogens.


Monocytes – Normal Range

Monocytes account for between 4 and 8 percent of white blood cells for the normal range. Regular monocyte values are usually between 1000 and 4500 cells per ml.


High monocyte count – causes

When monocytes exceed average values, the major cause could be infections from viruses and other pathogens. However, the condition could be caused by leukaemia or tumours. Monocytosis is usually a sign of inflammation and is caused by an infection in the blood. Monocytosis is a condition where the levels of monocytes are higher than normal.


Tests and diagnosis

When there is an increased count of monocytes, it may prove the presence of chronic inflammatory disease, parasitic infection, tuberculosis, and viral infections.


Treatment of monocytes

Changes in lifestyle like regular exercise, weight management, and adequate sleep help to keep the monocytes count in check. Some proper food consumption and diet supplement intake can contribute to augment the healing process and can keep in check high monocyte level.



Food that has high antioxidant content can help one boost his or her immunity and reduce the spread of infection. There are some foods, which have antioxidant properties and can reduce inflammation. Such foods are spinach, onion, garlic, turmeric, grapes, cherries, broccoli and black beans, and cumin. Omega -3 fatty acids supplements such as fish liver oil supplements and curcumin supplements help to reduce the inflammation.


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