What are Basophils?

Basophils are a type of white blood cell. There are five main types of white blood cell including basophils, they are neutrophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes and monocytes. The primary function of white blood cells is to protect the body from invasion (infections).

Which tests include this marker?

What Role Does It Play in The Body?

Basophils make up around 1% of the total white blood cell count. They have a role in protecting the body from invading pathogens particularly parasites. [1]

Basophils contain important substances which they release to help fight infection. For example, they release histamine to fight infection, causing blood vessels to widen. You may have heard of the medication anti-histamine which acts against histamine. In some cases, your body or your basophils may release histamine if it detects something it thinks may be harmful such as pollen – which is harmless. This release of histamine can cause rashes, itching and sneezing. [2]


An increased basophil count can indicate the presence of an infection or inflammation. Inflammation is caused by basophils after it releases histamine, proteoglycans, proteolytic enzymes and cytokines – substances which all contribute to our immune response.

How Do Basophils Affect My Wellbeing?

As basophils are a marker for infection or inflammation you may feel weak, tired, have a fever, bruise easily, lose weight, have pain in your joints, have swollen lymph nodes or keep picking up infections such as coughs and colds. This is because your immune system is already compromised and trying to fight an infection elsewhere in your body. 

An infection can also reduce your energy levels and make your mood low. You may feel generally unwell or like you can’t carry out your usual daily activities. Infections often occur during the colder, winter months which may also influence your mood.

How Can I Improve My Result?

You may not be able to directly influence your basophil count but with a good lifestyle, you can improve the efficiency of your immune system.

Smoking can damage your immune system and its response. However, some of the damage is reversible if you stop smoking. [3]


Nutrition is an important factor in our health and immune status. If we are deficient in some nutrients, then this can make our immune system weak. [4] Micronutrients including zinc, selenium, iron, copper, vitamins A, C and E, B6 and folic acid all have important influences on our immune responses. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet incorporating all these micronutrients. [5]


Exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle. However, intense exercise can also induce immunodepression during recovery. Therefore, it is essential that you take rest periods between bouts of intense exercise to prevent illness. [6]

Tests that include this marker


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[1] Stone, K, D., Prussin, C and Metcalfe, D, D. (2009). IgE, Mast Cells, Basophils and Eosinophils. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: 125(2), pp S73-S80.

[2] National Health Service. (2017). Antihistamines. Available at:

[3] Brodin, P and Davis, M, M. (2017). Human Immune System Variation. Nature Reviews: Immunology: 17(1), pp 21-29.

[4] Kafeshani, M. (2015). Diet and Immune System. Immunopathologia Persa: 1(1).

[5] Chandra, R, K. (1997). Nutrition and the Immune System: An Introduction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: 66, pp 460S-463S.

[6] Peake, J, M., Neubauer, O., Walsh, N, P and Simpson, R, J. (2016). Recovery of the Immune System After Exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology: 122, pp 1077-187.

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