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A complete blood count is used as a screening test for various diseases including anemia, leukemia, and inflammatory processes.

Stiff-person syndrome has been associated with pernicious anemia, diabetes, and thyroid disease.

The CBC is a routine test panel and is ordered by most physicians and hospitals when you present with an illness. So what do all of those numbers mean?

White blood cells with differential has two components: a count of circulating white blood cells (leukocytes) and the percentage of each type of leukocyte present.

This test can be helpful in screening for infection, leukemia, trauma, stress, tissue death, drug toxicity, dietary deficiency, autoimmune disease, and bone marrow conditions.

Neutrophil granulocytes (Absolute and %) are a type of white blood cell formed from stem cells and bone marrow.

Neutrophils may be subdivided into segmented neutrophils (or segs) and banded neutrophils (or bands). They are part of the first-responders of inflammatory cells to migrate towards the site of inflammation.

Lymphocytes (Absolute and %) include natural killer cells (NK cells), T cells (thymus cells), and B cells (bursa-derived cells).

Natural Killer cells defend the body from tumors and virally infected cells. NK cells distinguish infected cells and tumors from normal and uninfected cells by recognizing changes of a surface molecule called MHC (major histocompatibility complex) class I. NK cells are activated in response to a family of cytokines called interferons. Activated NK cells release cytotoxic (cell-killing) granules which then destroy the altered cells.

T and B cells  generate specific responses that are tailored to maximally eliminate specific pathogens or pathogen-infected cells.

B cells respond to pathogens by producing large quantities of antibodies which then neutralize foreign objects like bacteria and viruses.

In response to pathogens some T cells, called T helper cells, produce cytokines that direct the immune response, while other T cells, called cytotoxic T cells, produce toxic granules that contain powerful enzymes which induce the death of pathogen-infected cells.

Following activation, B cells and T cells leave a lasting legacy of the antigens they have encountered, in the form of memory cells. These memory cells will “remember” each specific pathogen encountered, and are able to mount a strong and rapid response if the pathogen is detected again. The T helper cell is a sub-type of the T cell that is able to activate all these lymphocytes.

Monocytes (Absolute and %) are the largest leukocytes and make up 2 - 10% of leukocytes.  They travel quickly to sites of infection in the tissues and divide/differentiate into macrophages and dendritic cells to elicit an immune response. Half of them are stored in the spleen.

Eosinophil granulocytes (Absolute and %) are responsible for combating multicellular parasites and certain infections and make up about 1-6% of white blood cells.

Basophils (Absolute and %) are the least common of the granulocytes and make up less than 0.1% of circulating white blood cells.

MPV (mean platelet volume) and Differential measures the volume of a large number of platelets which varies with total platelet production. If abnormal cells are noted on a manual review of the peripheral blood smear or if the automated differential information meets specific criteria, a full manual differential will be performed. This test can be helpful in screening for myelogenous leukemia and aplastic anemia.

Hemoglobin (Hgb) measures the total amount of hemoglobin in the peripheral blood which ties in with the red blood cell level. Hemoglobin transports oxygen and carbon dioxide.

MCH (mean corpuscle hemoglobin) measures the average amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells.

MCHC (mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) measures the average concentration of hemoglobin within a single red blood cell.

MCV (mean corpuscle value) measures the size of an average red blood cell.

Hematocrit measures the packed red blood cell volume (PCV). This test can be helpful in screening for heart disease, dehydration, burns, COPD, anemia, hyperthyroidism, cirrhosis, hemorrhage, dietary deficiency, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple myeloma, leukemia, renal disease, and lymphoma.

Red blood cell count calculates the  number of circulating red blood cells. Decreased levels could point to pernicious anemia.

RDW (red blood cell distribution width) measures the variation in red blood cell size.  It can be helpful in classifying types of anemia.

These levels are helpful in screening for COPD, congestive heart failure, severe burns, dehydration, anemia, nutritional deficiency, lymphoma, systemic lupus erythematosus, sarcoidosis, kidney disease, enlarged spleen, thyroid disease, B12 deficiency, and neoplasia.

Platelet count (thrombocyte count). Platelets are essential for clotting. This test can help screen for cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, iron-deficiency anemia, leukemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, pernicious anemia, and acute or chronic infection.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), also called a sedimentation rate or Westergren ESR, is the rate at which red blood cells sediment in a period of one hour. It is a common hematology test, and is a non-specific measure of inflammation.

For more information on these tests visit Quest Labs.


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