Within what is usually known a routine blood test (that is, the one that our family doctor recommends us to do every so often, commonly once a year or less time if there is any type of pathology or disease that advises it), the monocyte test is one of the parameters included in it.
Regarding its own analysis or examination, we usually find it within the section dedicated to the study of both white blood cells and red blood cells (blood count), since, specifically, it is a variety of white blood cells that we locate in the blood circulation.
Unlike other types of leukocytes, their size is much larger. That is, they consist of a type of white blood cell that we find in the blood.
What are monocytes and what are their functions in the body?
As we mentioned, monocytes are a type of white blood cell, which we therefore find present in the blood circulation. White blood cells are part of our body’s immune system, and among other very important functions, they help the body fight infections and other types of diseases.
Monocytes differ from other white blood cells such as granulocytes (neutrophils, basophils and eosinophil’s) and lymphocytes (B cells and T cells) in their size, since they stand out precisely for being leukocytes with a larger than normal size.
They are formed in the bone marrow, where they tend to live between 3 to 4 days, until they finally concentrate in the blood tissues and in certain organs of the body.
In the particular case of monocytes, being part of the immune system, they are responsible for helping the body eliminate foreign microorganisms, as well as dead cells. Therefore, when a monocyte blood test is performed, the most common is that its value varies depending on how our body’s defenses are.
Normal values of monocytes in blood
As we saw on a previous occasion when we talked to you about the normal values of white blood cells, in the particular case of monocytes, their normal value is between 200 and 800/all, in adults. In infants, however, it can vary between 400 and 3,100/all.
Depending on the laboratory that has performed the blood test, it is possible that the way of measuring monocytes varies. Thus, it is possible to find normal values of monocytes between 1000 to 4500 cells per ml.
Causes of Abnormal Blood Monocyte Values
Depending on the levels found in the blood test, we may find monocytes high or low. Here are the most common causes:
- Causes of high monocytes: It is common for monocytes to appear elevated when an infection caused by viruses or parasites has recently passed or is passing. It is an indication that our immune system is fighting or has fought an infection. In much less common circumstances, high values of monocytes in the blood could be due to the existence of tumors or leukemia, which is a type of cancer that affects the blood-producing organs, due to the excessive proliferation of white blood cells or leukocytes, either in the blood or in the bone marrow.
- Causes of low monocytes: Known medically by the name of monocytopenia, it is a condition that arises when monocyte values are lower than what is considered normal. It is common that it does not usually cause symptoms, although this depends on the pathology or disease that is causing its decrease. For example, the most common tend to be tuberculosis, HIV, or vitamin B12 or foliate deficiencies. In addition, medical therapies such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy can also have an influence.