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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Normal Peripheral Blood Cells. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Primary Function of Neutrophils

The primary function of neutrophils is phagocytosis, the ingestion and destruction of microorganisms or other foreign particles. For this reason, neutrophils are classified as phagocytes. Neutrophils are the first WBC to migrate to the site of an infecton.
When a neutrophil encounters a microorganism or foreign particle, phagocytosis begins. The following steps are carried out by the neutrophil during phagocytosis:
  • The neutrophil extends pseudopods around the foreign material and engulfs it.
  • Digestive enzymes present in the neutrophilic granules are released into the vacuole containing the foreign particle, and the particle is destroyed.
In most cases a mild infection enhances the function of neutrophils while a severe infection impairs their function.