The key difference between neutrophils and lymphocytes is that neutrophils cells, which are polymorphonuclear cells, are the most abundant white blood cells while lymphocytes, which are mononuclear cells, are the main type of immune cells in the lymph tissue.
White blood cells are a component of blood. These cells help us to fight against infections. They are part of the immune system. There are several types of white blood cells. Some are granulocytes having granules in their cytoplasm while some are agranulocytes lacking granules in their cytoplasm. Neutrophils are one type, and they are the most abundant type of white blood cells in our body. Lymphocytes are another type of white blood cells, and they are the main type of immune cells in the lymph tissue. Neutrophils and lymphocytes share some similarities as well as differences, as mentioned in this article.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Neutrophils
3. What are Lymphocytes
4. Similarities Between Neutrophils and Lymphocytes
5. Side by Side Comparison – Neutrophils vs Lymphocytes in Tabular Form
What are Neutrophils?
Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells present in our bloodstream, accounting for 55-70% of total white blood cells. These cells are extremely important since they can move freely through the walls of veins and into the tissues of our body and immediately act against all antigens. In fact, neutrophils are one of the first cell types that run immediately to the site of infection. These cells form an essential part of the innate immune system.
Structurally, neutrophils are polymorphonuclear cells having a multilobulated shaped nucleus. Furthermore, neutrophils contain granules in their cytoplasm. Hence, they are a type of granulocytes. Apart from that, neutrophils are a type of phagocyte. They engulf foreign particles and destroy them through phagocytosis. In addition to phagocytosis, neutrophils act against antigens by releasing soluble anti-microbials and generating neutrophil extracellular traps.
Another characteristic feature of neutrophil is the amoeboid movement. Upon activation, neutrophils can change their shape and size and move like an amoeba cell. Neutrophil production takes place in the bone marrow from myeloid cells. Neutrophils are short-lived with an average life span of 8 hours. Hence, our bodies produce over 100 billions of neutrophils per day.
What are Lymphocytes?
Lymphocytes are a type of white blood that accounts for 20-40 % of total white blood cells in the blood stream. As its name suggests, they are the main type of immune cells in the lymph tissue. Lymphocytes have a round-shaped nucleus. Hence, they are mononuclear cells. Furthermore, they lack granules in their cytoplasm. Therefore, they belong to the group of agranulocytes.
There are two main types of lymphocytes as T cells or T lymphocytes and B cells or B lymphocytes. Other than these two, there is another type of lymphocyte called natural killer cells. There are two types of T cells. One type of T cells produce cytokines that induce the immune response while the second type produces granules that are responsible for the death of the infected cells. B cells produce antibodies which recognize foreign antigens and neutralize them. B cells have two types: memory B cells and regulatory B cells. Natural killer cells especially recognize and destroy cancer cells or cells that have been infected by viruses.
Lymphocytes originate from lymphoblasts. Their production takes place in the bone marrow. After production, some cells go to the thymus and become T cells while some remain in the bone marrow and become B cells. The normal level of lymphocytes in the blood of an adult is 1,000 and 4,800 per 1 microliter (µL). In a child, it is between 3,000 and 9,500 per 1 µL of blood. Decreased level of lymphocytes indicates a sign of a disease.
What are the Similarities Between Neutrophils and Lymphocytes?
- Both neutrophils and lymphocytes are white blood cells present in our bloodstream.
- Moreover, they are immune cells associated with the immune system that work together to defend the body against foreign substances, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.
- Both cells help us to fight off diseases.
- They are produced in the bone marrow.
- Furthermore, they are short-lived cells.
- Moreover, they are nucleated cells.
What is the Difference Between Neutrophils and Lymphocytes?
Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells in our bloodstream. They are granulocytes and phagocytes. On the other hand, lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells that are agranulocytes. So, this is the key difference between neutrophils and lymphocytes. Moreover, neutrophils originate from myeloblast cells while lymphocytes originate from lymphoblasts.
The below infographic summarizes more information on the difference between neutrophils and lymphocytes.
Summary – Neutrophils vs Lymphocytes
Neutrophils are the most abundant white blood cells in the body. They account for approximately 50–70% of all white blood cells. They are granulocytes as well as phagocytes. On the other hand, lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells that account for 20-40 % of all white blood cells. They are agranulocytes, but they are not phagocytes. Characteristically, neutrophil has a multilobulated nucleus. Thus, they are known as polymorphonuclear cells. On the other hand, lymphocyte has a round shape nucleus, so they are mononuclear cells. Thus, this summarizes the difference between neutrophils and lymphocytes.
1. “Neutrophil.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 July 2019, Available here.
2. Silva, Joana Cavaco. “Lymphocytes: Levels, Ranges, and Functions.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, Available here.
1. “Blausen 0676 Neutrophil (crop)” By Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Blausen 0625 Lymphocyte T cell” By Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – Vlastito djelo (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia