LYM: What is it, what does it do, its high and low
Lymphocytes (LYM) are produced in the bone marrow and are found in blood and lymph tissue. They take part in defense against foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses and cancer cells that interfere with the function of the body’s immune system.
What is Lym?
While some of the lymphocyte cells constantly produced by the bone marrow enter the bloodstream, most pass through the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system forms tissues and organs such as the spleen, tonsils, and lymph nodes that protect the body from infections. About a quarter of the newly produced lymphocytes remain in the bone marrow and differentiate into B cells. The remaining three-quarters go to the thymus and become T cells.
The main function of B and T cells is to fight infection and there are different types. These types are as follows:
- Effector cells activated by antigens to combat an active infection
- Memory cells in the body that recognize past infections and can quickly activate in the event of re-infection with an antigen
What is Lym used for?
Lymphocytes undertake various tasks depending on their type. The types and functions of lymphocytes are as follows:
Memory B cells
Cells called memory B cells undertake the task of creating a rapid antibody response when they encounter a foreign substance in the body. They remain in the body for years and act as memory cells, remembering previously found antigens and helping the immune system respond more quickly to future attacks.
Regulatory B cells
Cells called regulatory B cells, or Bregs, are found in about 0.5 percent of all B cells in a healthy person. Although their numbers are small, they have a vital role to play.
Regulatory B cells exert protective anti-inflammatory effects in the body and help stop inflammation. It also interacts with other immune cells, enabling the production of regulatory T cells.
Killer T cells
Killer or cytotoxic T cells can detect the presence of infection in the body or that the cells are cancerous and scan the surface of the body cells for this purpose. They destroy these cells when they see a dangerous situation.
Helper T cells
T cells, which act as helpers, as the name suggests, enable other cells in the immune system to initiate an immune response against any foreigner that enters the body. There are different types of helper T cells, and some act more effectively than others against different types of microbes.
For example, a Th1 cell is more effective against microbes that cause infection inside the cell, while a Th2 cell fights more effectively against infections outside the cell, such as certain bacteria and parasites.
Regulatory T cells
Regulatory T cells control and dominate other cells in the immune system. It is known to have both beneficial and harmful effects. While they maintain their effectiveness against microbes, they prevent autoimmune diseases and protect against inflammatory diseases. However, they may prevent the immune system from being effective against some antigens and tumors.
Memory T cells
Memory T cells protect the body against antigens it has met before. They continue to live long after an infection is over, causing the immune system to remember previous infections. If the same foreign substance enters the body a second time, memory T cells remember it and reproduce rapidly, helping the body to fight it faster.
Natural killer T cells (Natural Killers)
Natural killer T cells are a complex group of cells that have characteristics of both T cells and natural killer cells. It can also control an immune response in the body by affecting other immune cells.
What is Low Lym?
Lymphocyte counts below the normal range are called low lymphocytes and may be temporary. This may occur if you have had a cold or any other infection. In addition, intense exercise, excessive stress or malnutrition can also be considered as reasons.
A low Lym level may be a sign of a condition known as lymphocytopenia or lymphopenia. It may also be a side effect of medications or other medical treatments. In addition, lymphocytopenia can be hereditary and can manifest itself in certain diseases, including:
- Rare genetic diseases such as ataxia-telangiectasia
- Nerve diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS)
- autoimmune diseases
- Infectious diseases (AIDS)
The numbers of lymphocytes that signal lymphocytopenia vary between adults and children. It is generally less than 1,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood for adults, and less than 3,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood for children.
What is Lym Height?
Lymphocyte counts above the normal range are called lymphocyte elevation. It is usually a harmless and temporary condition due to the body’s normal response to an infection or inflammatory condition. But sometimes high levels of lymphocytes can indicate lymphocytosis, a more serious condition.
Lymphocytosis is often linked to chronic infections, some blood cancers, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
In adults, lymphocytosis is usually a lymphocyte count higher than 3,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood. In children, lymphocytosis corresponds to approximately 9,000 lymphocytes in 1 µL of blood. However, this value may change with age.
What Do the Results Mean?
Low lymphocyte count may indicate a cold. By performing B and T cell screening, information is obtained about the amount of T and B cells in the blood, and these results tell the number of normal cells or abnormal cells. If present, it draws attention to the presence of a second possible disease. In this case, your doctor will probably order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Above normal levels of T cells may indicate the following conditions:
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis
- Viral infections, such as infectious mononucleosis
- Infections caused by parasites such as toxoplasmosis
- Diseases that affect the lungs and other organs
- Cancers related to white blood cells
- Blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow
B cell counts above the normal range may indicate the following conditions:
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
- multiple myeloma
- A familial disease known as DiGeorge syndrome
- A type of cancer called Waldenström macroglobulinemia
T cell counts below the normal range may indicate the following conditions:
- congenital diseases
- T cell deficiency diseases (AIDS or HIV which can progress to HTLV-1)
B cell counts below the normal range may indicate the following conditions:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- HIV or another disease that lowers the immune system’s resistance
Unusually high or low Lym counts may not cause any symptoms or cause serious problems on their own. It may also be simply the body’s ordinary response to an infection, inflammatory condition, or other unusual situation. It may even return to normal levels after that.
If lymphocyte counts remain higher or lower than normal for a period of time, they may be a sign of disease and a diagnosis of lymphocytopenia or lymphocytosis may be made. Treatment of diseases caused by abnormal lymphocyte levels depends on the cause of these levels and the severity of the condition. Sometimes treatment may not even be required for mild abnormal levels.
Chronic, because very low lymphocyte count makes you vulnerable to infections, you become susceptible to contracting infectious diseases. To strengthen your immunity, you should first pay attention to hand hygiene and always wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. You also need to stay away from those who have a cold or another contagious disease. Long-lasting, very high lymphocyte count conditions usually resolve within a few weeks. If lymphocytosis persists, special blood tests help clarify the situation. If the cause is unclear, your doctor will refer you to a doctor who specializes in blood disorders (hematologist). It is important that your lymphocytes, the powerful warriors of your immune system, are at normal levels. See your doctor for abnormal lymphocyte counts.