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Overview of Leukocyte Disorders in Animals

By

R. Darren Wood

, DVM, DVSc, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph

Last full review/revision Jan 2022 | Content last modified Mar 2022

Leukocytes, or WBCs, in the blood of healthy mammals include segmented neutrophils, band neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils. Abnormal leukocytes include neutrophils less mature than bands (eg, metamyelocytes, myelocytes, progranulocytes), blast cells of any hematopoietic lineage, mast cells, and other neoplastic cells. WBCs vary in their site of production, their duration of circulation, and the stimuli that affect their release into and migration out of the vascular system. Differences in leukocyte physiology account for species differences in normal blood cell concentrations and their responses to disease.

The leukogram, a component of the CBC, is an organized tabulation of the total nucleated cell concentration, along with the concentrations of specific WBC types present in the blood sample, also known as the WBC differential. Knowledge of species-specific WBC physiology and the influence of disease processes form the basis for interpreting abnormalities of the leukogram to inform a diagnosis. However, most leukogram interpretations define a process rather than a specific diagnosis. Processes generally fall into four groups: 1) transient physiologic responses that alter vascular hemodynamics; 2) inflammatory, infectious, and immunologic responses; 3) bone marrow responses to injury; and 4) hematopoietic cell neoplasia. (Also see White Blood Cells: White Blood Cells: Hematology refers to the study of the numbers and morphology of the cellular elements of the blood—the RBCs (erythrocytes), WBCs (leukocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes)—and the use of these... read more White Blood Cells: .)

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